The European Union is moving in on the final stages of a data transfer pact with the United States. Brussels issued a draft decision asserting that US safeguards against intelligence-gathering activities are robust enough to address concerns previously raised by the EU.

Both sides managed to seal a preliminary deal in March, which was good news for companies that had found themselves in legal trouble after the bloc’s top court struck down an EU-US data transfer agreement that had been in place in 2020. The concerns raised regarded US intelligence agencies being able to access the personal data of EU residents.

Safeguards in place

US President Joe Biden signed an executive order in October outlining new standards on intelligence gathering activities and creating a two-step system of regress, first to an intelligence agency watchdog and then to a court with independent judges.

Didier Reynders, the European Commission’s justice director, stated that the draft adequacy decision demonstrates that US protections now provide EU residents with the same data protection as EU laws.

“Our analysis has shown that strong safeguards are now in place in the US to allow the safe transfers of personal data between the two sides of the Atlantic”, Reynders said in a statement. “The future Framework will help protect the citizens’ privacy, while providing legal certainty for businesses.”

Max Schrems opposes

Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems, who has successfully campaigned against US intelligence services accessing EU data for years, claimed the new US precautions remain insufficient for the data of residents outside the United States.

“I can’t see how this would survive a challenge before the Court of Justice”, he said. “It seems that the European Commission just issues similar decisions over and over again – in flagrant breach of our fundamental rights.”