Could the E.U.-U.S. Privacy Shield Provide Greater Protection to U.S. Citizens’ Personal Data?

kenzieo_picBy Mackenzie Olson

The E.U.-U.S. Privacy Shield promises greater privacy protection for E.U. citizens’ personal data, but it provides no such assurances to U.S. citizens—even though consumers have become increasingly concerned about how companies use their personal information. However, as companies reconfigure their current privacy protocols to satisfy these new standards, U.S. citizens could realize a windfall.

In Europe, privacy is considered a fundamental right, though it is not in the U.S. Data protection safeguards are included in the E.U.’s charter, but there is no U.S. federal law that establishes a right to privacy. The Safe Harbor data transfer agreement of 2000 between the U.S. and E.U. previously dictated how companies could satisfy the heightened privacy requirements due their E.U. customers’ personal data. However, Safe Harbor is now defunct. In October 2015, the European Court of Justice struck down the agreement because it failed to protect E.U. citizens from U.S. government surveillance. Ever since Edward Snowden’s 2013 document leaks revealed details about the National Security Agency (N.S.A.)’s intelligence operations, Europeans have been concerned about how U.S. intelligence uses their personal data. Though the European Commission and U.S. Department of Commerce are still developing the details of the Privacy Shield and its text, officials state that an agreement should be reached by the second part of February of this year. Continue reading