WASHINGTON – The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), the global voice for the tech sector, today raised concerns regarding the decision by the European Union’s highest court, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), to invalidate the European Commission’s decision implementing the longstanding U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework (Safe Harbor). The Safe Harbor provides a streamlined mechanism to enable companies to transfer the personal data of EU citizens to the United States in order to perform transatlantic business, while ensuring privacy protections adequate under EU law for that personal data.
“Today’s judgment threatens our shared efforts to facilitate trade and protect privacy by calling into question the viability of the Safe Harbor,” said ITI President and CEO Dean Garfield. “The decision creates significant uncertainty, not only for U.S.-headquartered technology companies, but also for virtually all companies that conduct business across the Atlantic, including many small businesses, as well as their employees and customers.”
“Data flows are the lifeblood of modern commerce and underpin trade and investment across the Atlantic and around the world. The Safe Harbor has been indispensable in facilitating the cross-border flows of data that are as critical to transatlantic and global business as maritime shipping lanes and currency exchanges,” Garfield said.
ITI noted it respects the independence of the CJEU and the importance of strong privacy protections to European citizens and the EU’s treaty framework. “The tech industry shares the commitment to robust personal data protections, as these are critical to ensuring customer trust, which tech companies depend on for their success,” Garfield said. “The fact is that the strength of privacy protections for personal data does not depend on where data is located, but rather on the security measures used to protect that data.”
ITI recently pressed the U.S. Congress to pass the USA Freedom Act to enhance protections for the American public, and continues to urge U.S. lawmakers to pass the Judicial Redress Act to extend privacy protections to European citizens. ITI has also been strongly supportive of the ongoing work of EU and U.S. officials to negotiate state-of-the-art enhancements to the Safe Harbor Framework.
ITI is respectfully requesting that EU officials provide immediate guidance to enable companies to continue business operations and ensure that consumers will continue to benefit from their products and services, as well as the privacy protections on which they depend. ITI will continue to support the efforts of policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic to conclude negotiations on an up-to-date Safe Harbor Framework.
“ITI stands ready to work with governments, the business community, and civil society to develop policy frameworks that protect citizens’ personal data, while supporting the innovation and data flows that have provided so many benefits to companies and citizens on both sides of the Atlantic,” said Garfield.
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