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The European Commission on Wednesday gave a thumbs-up to the “Privacy Shield” agreement that allows U.S. companies to transfer EU personal data outside of the bloc, following the first annual review of the pact. But the commission also urged U.S. authorities to more proactively monitor companies’ compliance with the terms of the deal.

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Ben Hancock

Ben Hancock is the Data Editor for ALM Media and Law.com. Based in San Francisco, he leads a newsroom initiative to produce insightful, data-driven journalism. Ben can be reached at bhancock@alm.com.

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  • Eimer Stahl LLP
  • Greenberg Traurig

/uploads/sites/403/2017/10/European-Commission-Article-201710182033.jpg" alt="" width="620" height="372" /> The European Commission on Wednesday gave a thumbs-up to the "Privacy Shield" agreement that allows U.S. companies to transfer EU personal data outside of the bloc, following the first annual review of the pact. But the commission also urged U.S. authorities to more proactively monitor companies compliance with the terms of the deal. The Privacy Shield agreement was struck last year after the EU���s highest court invalidated a pre-existing data arrangement known as Safe Harbor, due largely to disclosures by Edward Snowden showing the extent of U.S. mass surveillance. More than 2,400 companies���including Facebook Inc., Microsoft Corp., and Google Inc.���are enrolled in the new agreement. Unlike Safe Harbor, Privacy Shield established an annual review mechanism by EU authorities to determine whether the agreement is sufficiently protecting European citizens��� privacy. The commission, the EU���s executive arm, said Wednesday the agreement is working as intended but called on the U.S. to take a number of further steps. "Transatlantic data transfers are essential for our economy, but the fundamental right to data protection must be ensured also when personal data leaves the EU,��� European Justice Commissioner V��ra Jourov�� <a href="http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-3966_en.htm" target="_blank">said in a statement</a>. ���Our first review shows that the Privacy Shield works well, but there is some room for improving its implementation.��� The commissions positive assessment of the agreement, however, doesnt fully ease fears about the future legal framework for U.S.-EU data transfers. The Irish High Court��earlier this��month <a href="http://www.therecorder.com/id=1202799516015/Irish-Court-Throws-USEU-Data-Transfers-Into-Uncertainty">threw into doubt</a> the future viability of Privacy Shield and another mechanism used by companies to transfer data called standard contractual clauses. A case that could impact both is now teed up at the EUs highest court, with a decision more than a year away. "The net effect for U.S. companies that have registered with the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, is that they are assured that the Shield will continue to operate at least on the short term," Greenberg Traurig privacy lawyer Fran��oise Gilbert said in an email from Brussels. "This is important news given the uncertain future of [SCCs] until a decision is made by European Court of Justice." The commission specifically recommended in its <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/newsroom/just/item-detail.cfm?item_id=605619" target="_blank">seven-page report</a> that the Department of Commerce conduct ���compliance checks on a regular basis.��� It said these checks could take the form of questionnaires sent to a ���representative sample of certified companies��� around specific obligations contained in Privacy Shield. A Commerce Department spokesman was not immediately able to comment on the report, or the extent to which the department already conducts compliance checks. Although Commerce oversees the administration of the pact, the authority to bring enforcement actions under Privacy Shield rests with the Federal Trade Commission. Debbie Reynolds, a technology and e-discovery expert at Eimer Stahl in Chicago, noted the FTC has <a href="https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/blogs/business-blog/2017/09/ftc-cases-affirm-commitment-privacy-shield" target="_blank">brought three enforcement actions</a> since Privacy Shield went into force in August 2016���all of which focused on companies that falsely certified as participants in Privacy Shield, rather than examining the substantive compliance of participating companies. ���These were low-hanging fruit type of actions,��� Reynolds said, adding that the enforcements were all announced last month, while the commission review was ongoing. The commission also called on the Trump administration to fill a <a href="https://www.state.gov/e/privacyshield/ombud/" target="_blank">���Privacy Shield Ombudsperson��� </a>role within the U.S. State Department. The position is supposed to serve as an intermediary between U.S. intelligence agencies and EU authorities if an EU citizen makes a complaint about their data being swept up in surveillance. It is currently filled on an acting basis by Judith Garber, acting under secretary for economic growth, energy and the environment. In addition, the commission urged the U.S. Congress to enshrine certain parts of an Obama-era presidential policy directive���known as <a href="https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2014/01/17/presidential-policy-directive-signals-intelligence-activities" target="_blank">PPD-28</a>���as it considers renewing Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. Section 702 allows intelligence authorities to target the communications of non-U.S. persons, but has been <a href="https://www.justsecurity.org/45917/surveillance-reform-fourth-amendments-long-slow-goodbye/#more-45917" target="_blank">criticized</a> for sweeping up U.S. citizens��� communications too. PPD-28, meanwhile, established certain limits on bulk collection of data. ���The upcoming debate on the re-authorisation of Section 702����� provides the U.S. Administration and Congress with a unique opportunity for strengthening the privacy protections contained in FISA,��� the commission report says. Section 702 is currently set to expire at the end of the year. <div dir="ltr"> U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement reacting to the commissions report, "We look forward to continuing to work together with our colleagues on the European Commission and across all of the EU Member States as we continually strive to ensure that the Privacy Shield program serves all stakeholders well.��� </div> <

  • Eimer Stahl LLP
  • Greenberg Traurig

> Knitter: Too few entities/relations are generated compared to number of concepts (only 96% (64/66) concepts are converted).

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