Biden signs decree allowing transfer of personal data from EU
The White House states that transatlantic data flows are critical to enabling the $7.1 trillion economic relationship between the EU and the US.
On Friday, the White House published a statement announcing that US President Joe Biden signed an executive order to implement a security framework in which the transfers of personal data between the US and the EU would be protected while admitting that the previous framework known as Privacy Shield did not provide adequate protection.
The statement says that the executive is intended to restore a legal basis for transatlantic data flows by "addressing concerns that the Court of Justice of the European Union raised in striking down the prior EU-US Privacy Shield Framework as a valid data transfer mechanism under EU law."
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told reporters that "This is a culmination of our joint efforts to restore trust and stability to transatlantic data flows," adding that "It will enable a continued flow of data that underpins more than a trillion dollars in cross-border trade and investment every year."
Although officials in Brussels warned that it was only the start of a process that could take months to reach a new data deal, EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders praised the order and called it a "significant step."
EU privacy activists have in recent times launched a series of lawsuits against US tech giants due to the ability of US intelligence services to access the personal data of Facebook or Google users.
While the US has attempted to arrange equivalency deals with EU courts, these were later dismissed after hearing complaints that US laws violate the fundamental rights of EU citizens.
Read more: US senate report warns spy agencies are falling behind
Prominent Austrian activist Max Schrems, who is well known for previous campaigns against Facebook over the transfer of data to the NSA, said "We will likely attack (the deal) in court," he told sources, putting the chances at "90 percent". "We need to first analyze it in detail, which will take several days," he said, adding that at first glance it seems the central privacy issues "haven't been resolved".
Schrems took part in various campaigns. The most notable being Safe Harbor, which was ruled out by EU courts in 2015, and later Privacy Shield shut down in July 2020.
The failure of abiding by EU laws prompted some businesses to resort to difficult workarounds in order to keep the data flow moving.
Senior vice president in Europe for the Big Tech lobby, the Computer & Communications Industry Association, Christian Borggreen said a new agreement "is of great importance," adding that "It will support continued transatlantic commerce, strengthen data protection, and provide legal clarity for data transfers between the EU and US."
European citizens are right to contest the EU-US deals over data privacy. Indeed, the US has a well-known history of conducting spying activities online.
In recent months, there have been reports of cyberattacks across the EU, with some businesses being impacted such as Revolut, but there have also been government websites that were shut down, as in the case of Albania, where Iran was unfairly accused of initiating the attacks.
Meanwhile, the US-backed Israeli company NSO continues to roam freely with its Pegasus program which has violated the privacy of thousands of activists, journalists, and heads of States.
Three days ago, it was reported that three human rights investigators' phones in Mexico had been breached by Israeli NSO's spyware Pegasus despite the Mexican government's pledges claiming it will cease exploiting the contentious Pegasus spyware.
Read more: US defense company in talks over buying NSO's Pegasus