2 min

The United States and European Union agree on a new framework for legal data transfers between the EU and US.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that the European Union and United States reached an agreement for legal EU-US data transfers.

The new agreement will be ironed out in the coming months. The agreement achieves the same goal as the Privacy Shield, which came to expire in 2020. The first draft is months away.

Why agree?

The personal data of EU residents is protected by European privacy rules, regardless of the data’s location. You’re not permitted to exchange personal EU data with a US processor if the processing violates the GDPR.

A dilemma, because the US processor must comply with US laws. Those laws, in turn, stipulate that intelligence agencies may access data stored on US soil. That’s a hard violation of the GDPR.

Until 2020, the Privacy Shield provided a solution. The agreement allowed data to be exchanged legally, regardless of friction between national laws. In July 2020, the European Court of Justice ruled that the Privacy Shield did not protect European residents’ privacy sufficiently. The ruling is known as Schrems II. Ever since, intercontinental data transfers have been a treacherous area.

The latter is about to change. Though the new agreement lacks an official name, it’s highly similar to the earlier Privacy Shield.

The solution, a new Privacy Shield

“We have found an agreement in principle on a new framework for transatlantic data flows”, Von der Leyen writes to President Joe Biden. “This will enable predictable and trustworthy data flows between the EU and US, safeguarding privacy and civil liberties.”

The upcoming agreement has major implications for recent controversies surrounding Google Analytics.

Why now?

Von der Leyen concludes with a plausible reason for the agreement’s timing. The EC president damns Vladimir Putin. Von der Leyen describes how Russia’s aggression gives rise to closer cooperation between the EU and US.

“Putin is trying to turn back the clock to another era, an era of brutal use of force, of power politics, of spheres of influence and internal repression. I am confident he will fail. We are working together to forge a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable future. And I know that we will succeed.”