Empty promises cannot remedy breaches of fundamental rights

Cornelia Ernst comments on the political agreement between the European Commission and US Department of Commerce on transatlantic data flows:

“'Safe Harbour' will now be called 'Privacy Shield' and the US Federal Trade Commission will be asked to be more strict with supervising the data processing of US companies. This means that the Commission is merrily letting data transfers to the US continue, as if the revelations of Edward Snowden or last year's ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the Schrems case, where the original 'Safe Harbour' decision was declared invalid, had never even existed.

“The European Commission and, Commissioner Jourova in particular, completely fail to take account of what has happened in data protection in recent years. I am even more frustrated by the Commission's continued naivety when dealing with the US. In fact, the Commission now trusts some “written assurances” by the US administration, and an “exchange of letters”, as Jourova put it on Monday evening when she spoke to the LIBE committee.

“These assurances basically say that data processing in the US will from now on be roughly in line with European standards, not even with our laws. They promise that an ombudsman will be designated in the US to deal with complaints from users in Europe, but fail to specify what his or her competences will be, or if s/he will be able to challenge data processing by the NSA.

“You cannot do away with fundamental rights this easily. The US's assurances are neither sufficient nor credible. Now it is back to active citizens like Max Schrems to make sure that the ECJ can do its job and declare 'Privacy Shield' invalid.”


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