The European Union and United States announced a new framework for transatlantic data flows on February 2, called the EU-US Privacy Shield. Peter Swire, the Huang Professor of Law and Ethics at the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business, was in Brussels last week while these Safe Harbor negotiations were underway. Swire, who is the associate director for policy of the Institute for Information Security and Privacy, explains how the new agreement saves the day.
The agreement announced Feb. 2 averts a trade war that threatened to cut off a vast array of data flows between Europe and the United States. Effective reforms and effective diplomacy have saved the day.
The U.S. has made multiple and important reforms to its surveillance law since the Edward Snowden stories began in 2013. Congress passed the USA-Freedom Act in 2015, which among other good measures banned bulk collection of telephone records. President Obama in 2014 issued Presidential Privacy Directive-28, announcing the principle that privacy and civil liberties protections should apply to Europeans and others outside of the US, where possible. We have updated U.S. law while protecting our national security and other vital interests.
In my view, the surveillance reforms since 2013 were essential to bringing the Europeans on board. The U.S. surveillance reforms gave our allies what they needed to conclude the deal.
Note: Last week Swire debated with Max Schrems, the Austria privacy activist who filed the lawsuit that ultimately brought down the 2000 Safe Harbor agreement. The debate can be found here.
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