New Safe Harbour proposals 'must include suspension clause'

Europe and middle east map at night lit up with data lines

The second iteration of the Safe Harbour data sharing initiative between Europe and the US must be able to be suspended if the EU feels privacy concerns appear again.

The EU Justice Commissioner said following the suspension of the original Safe Harbour legislation in October, any new version of the agreement would be subject to a suspension clause.

"We have been negotiating a renewed, safer arrangement for transatlantic data transfers with our American partners since 2014," Commissioner Vera Jourova said.

"A renewed arrangement that will mean robust safeguards for citizens and legal certainty for businesses. I got the impression in Washington that the US side shares this aim and I hope they share our sense of urgency after the judgement."

"In the new Safe Harbour there will be a suspension clause, saying that under concrete conditions we are going to suspend (it)," Jourova said.

The understanding is meant to guarantee the same level of protection for EU data when it is transferred to the US.

However, the EU Court of Justice ruled the last Safe Harbour agreement invalid following many of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations that led the court to decide the US would value anti-terrorism measures above personal privacy.

The agreement also relied on the self-certification of American businesses that they would protect data when transferred to a US-based datacentre, but Snowden revealed this data can still be snooped upon by authorities, meaning customer data was not safe from prying eyes at all.

Some of the companies using Safe Harbour as justification for transferring data between the EU and US could face legal action in January 2016 while the second iteration of the bill are discussed.

The parties have until 31 January 2016 to reach a new agreement.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.