A new agreement allowing companies to transfer data between the European Union and the United States should be in place “by the summer” and will provide legal certainty for tech firms, the European Commission has said after Meta received a record fine.
Late last year the EU and US reached a political agreement on a new arrangement governing the transfer of data between the jurisdictions, to replace a previous deal that was struck down by the European Court of Justice in a successful challenge by privacy campaigners.
The commission said that the details of the new framework for data protection was close to being formally finalised and that it would address privacy concerns while providing certainty for companies, after the Data Protection Commission hit Meta with a record €1.2 billion fine for breaching EU data protection laws and ordered it to suspend the transfer of European user data to the US.
“When it comes to these transfers via Meta, the Irish authority has indicated that Meta must solve the problem,” commission spokesman Christian Wigand said. “We are finalising a framework for data protection between the EU and the US and that framework will deal with the matters that emerged during this particular case.”
New guarantees have been negotiated with the US as part of the new privacy framework, and will be applied to “all transatlantic data transfers irrespective of the mechanism that is used to facilitate that transfer”, he continued.
“Guarantees were negotiated with the United States as part of the EU-US privacy framework. We expect this data protection framework between the EU and US to be fully functional by the summer and this will guarantee stability and legal certainty, both sought by businesses, and would also guarantee strict protection of the private lives of citizens.”
Austrian activist Max Schrems, who successfully challenged the last EU-US data transfer arrangement, has warned, however, that he believes the new agreement will still have shortcomings and that he is prepared to challenge it again in the courts.
Last year, Facebook parent company Meta warned that uncertainty over international data transfers was a “threat to our ability to serve European consumers and operate our business in Europe”.