January 25, 2016

WASHINGTON – The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), the global voice of the tech sector, released the following statement from President and CEO Dean Garfield today reacting to a new report, called Essentially Equivalent, which concludes that privacy and data protection laws are substantially similar in the European Union (EU) and the United States. The report’s findings are important as negotiations to reach a new Safe Harbor agreement between the EU and U.S. enter their final days before a January 31st deadline set by European data protection authorities (DPAs). The authorities are set to meet on February 2 to assess whether the steps taken by the EU and U.S. to improve the protections for EU citizens’ data pass muster under the Court of Justice of the European Union’s (CJEU) decision to invalidate the 15-year old Safe Harbor agreement governing transatlantic data transfers.

“As we enter the final days of the negotiations we need as many bridges to success as possible. This report affirms that there are strong and viable pathways that lead to a robust framework for enabling Trans-Atlantic data flows,” said ITI President and CEO Dean Garfield. “We look forward to sharing the results of this report as we work with our European colleagues to get to yes.”

The Essentially Equivalent report, commissioned by ITI, Microsoft, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, BSA | The Software Alliance, and the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), offers European leaders and DPAs an in-depth analysis of EU law, the surveillance laws of eight EU Member States, and U.S. law on surveillance and on privacy and data protection, to show in detail how U.S. protections meet the CJEU’s "essentially equivalent" test in the case. In October 2015, the CJEU ruled that the European Commission had failed to evaluate whether the U.S. provides appropriate protections for the personal data of EU citizens, effectively invalidating the Safe Harbor framework, which had governed transatlantic data transfers.

“Without a path forward for transatlantic data flows, the ability of companies to run their businesses, of small businesses to reach new markets, and of citizens to be connected could be thrown into doubt,” Garfield noted.

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Public Policy Tags: Forced Localization, Cybersecurity, Data & Privacy, Trade & Investment, Internet Governance