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Trump Order Sparks Privacy Shield Fears

The European Commission has said a new Executive Order from Donald Trump will not affect the EU-US Privacy Shield data sharing agreement, but claimed it is following developments across the Atlantic closely.

In one of his first acts as President, Trump signed the Enhancing Public Safety order – which is basically an attempt to crack down on illegal immigrants.

It states that privacy protections won’t be extended beyond US citizens or residents:

Agencies shall, to the extent consistent with applicable law, ensure that their privacy policies exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information.

This raised fears that European citizens’ data stored by large US multinationals in America could be at risk from prying from agencies including the NSA and FBI.

After all, the very reason the original Safe Harbor agreement was torn up was that the EU Court of Justice ruled it didn’t adequately protect European consumers from the prying eyes of US spooks.

Jan-Philipp Albrecht, a German MEP and European Parliament rapporteur on the EU’s general data protection regulation, tweeted:

“If this is true @EU_Commission has to immediately suspend #PrivacyShield & sanction the US for breaking EU-US umbrella agreement.”

However, the European Commission has since responded with the following statement:

“The US Privacy Act has never offered data protection rights to Europeans. The Commission negotiated two additional instruments to ensure that EU citizens’ data is duly protected when transferred to the US:

The EU-US Privacy Shield, which does not rely on the protections under the US Privacy Act.

The EU-US Umbrella Agreement, which enters into force on 1 February. To finalize this agreement, the US Congress adopted a new law last year, the US Judicial Redress Act, which extends the benefits of the US Privacy Act to Europeans and gives them access to US courts.”

The Commission said it will “continue to monitor the implementation of both instruments,” and anything else which might affect Europeans’ data protection rights.

However, even if conflict is avoided this time around, the Trump administration’s ‘America First’ policies could yet jeopardize the data sharing agreement. 

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