The order establishing a new transatlantic privacy framework will allow the US to review how the EU handles surveillance.

An American executive order designed to assuage the EU’s privacy concerns will also allow the US government to review and approve European surveillance programs, according to a report in POLITICO.

President Joe Biden’s executive order, which was signed on Friday, establishes a Data Protection Review Court within the Department of Justice, which will allow EU citizens to file lawsuits on how their data is collected and used by US intelligence agencies. The order also requires intelligence agencies to only collect data for necessary and proportionate use.

Adjusting the privacy ‘balance of power’

The main focus of the executive order is to ensure that companies can continue sending data between the EU and the US while meeting the standards set by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in 2020. Biden’s privacy framework will also extend these privacy rights for American citizens, Peter Harrell said on Friday. Harrell is the senior director for International Economics and Competitiveness at the White House National Security Council.

The US attorney general will have to designate the EU as a qualifying state or region under the privacy framework, which will open the door for the US government to assess the EU’s surveillance safeguards, Harrell said.

The move marks a win for the US government, which has long griped that Brussels holds all the cards in data flow talks and that its national security laws are held to a higher standard than the EU’s own. Under the new framework, the US will be able to withhold the use of the redress mechanism to countries or regional zones that don’t meet its standards.

A European Commission official told POLITICO the designation exercise would not be an assessment per se, but admitted that it would have to present its own safeguards. “The redress mechanism is open to countries and regional organizations that offer appropriate safeguards and have data flow arrangements with the US”, the spokesperson said.