Is ‘Safe Harbor’ no longer safe? EU to review regime for personal data transfers to the US

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In a dramatic announcement on 19 July, EU commissioner Viviane Reding stated that the European Commission will be reviewing its Safe Harbor Agreement with the US. This review will be keenly awaited by many companies and other organisations that presently rely on the Safe Harbor Agreement to lawfully transfer personal data between the EU and the US.

Viviane Reding, who is the EU commissioner responsible for data protection, stated that the recent PRISM controversy was a ‘wake-up call’ that Europe would answer with ‘data protection reform’. In that context, Reding said the ‘Safe Harbor agreement may not be so safe after all’ as it could be used as a ‘loophole’ for data transfers from the EU to the US, despite ‘US data protection standards [being] lower than our European ones’. As a result, she stated that she will be working on ‘a solid assessment of the Safe Harbor Agreement’ and will present this ‘before the end of the year’…

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