A data sharing deal establishing the Safe Harbour Agreement devised by the European Union and the United States has been recently challenged by a 27 year old law student at the European Court of Justice.
The Safe Harbour Agreement allows the United States to gather and convey personal data of European Union citizens to large US Tech companies, such as Facebook and Google, and service providers within the financial industry. Since the European Union had created its own list of states which are considered to be safe and adequate for the data sharing, it was pertinent for the European Union and the United States to reach an agreement between themselves. Consequently, entities situated within the United States may be added to the Safe Harbour list after satisfying the conditions laid out by the US Department of Commerce.
However, it is now being stated that the agreement reached around 15 years ago does not only hinder the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights but it also fails to provide adequate judicial protection for European Union Citizens. Moreover, in the midst of the current legal battle at the European Court of Justice, the Advocate General has put forward his recommendations with respect to this agreement which is currently rattling the US tech industry. He stated that the transfer of data also goes against the principle of proportionality since the surveillance techniques provided for by the United States do not satisfy European Union standards.
Indeed, the AG also believes that the United States intelligence services’ right of access is rather unfettered to the extent that such access hinders the right to the protection of personal data and the right to respect for private life. These rights are both safeguarded by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Undeniably this recent revelation may cause tension between the authorities in charge of privacy issues and may even lead to fresh negotiations in order to ease the strain and once again facilitate the flow of data between the two economic powerhouses.