EU’s Vestager sees latest EU, U.S. data transfer deal challenged in court

FILE PHOTO: A data center is pictured at DataRush IT Services company in Malaga
FILE PHOTO: A data center is pictured at DataRush IT Services company in Malaga, southern Spain May 30, 2018. REUTERS/Jon Nazca/File Photo

March 28, 2022

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A data transfer deal agreed by the European Union and the United States last week will likely end up in court just like the two previous pacts it replaces, EU tech chief Margrethe Vestager said on Monday.

The 27-nation bloc and the United States announced the preliminary data transfer deal on Friday, seeking to end the limbo in which thousands of companies found themselves after Europe’s top court threw out the two previous pacts due to concerns about U.S. surveillance.

Thousands of companies had found themselves in a legal quagmire when transferring Europeans’ personal data across the Atlantic for personnel management, online sales and other activities.

“My guess is here that it will be tested indeed in court, but I know how much they have worked for this to be solid, but of course it remains to be seen,” Vestager told Reuters in an interview.

Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems, whose campaign about the risk of U.S. intelligence agencies obtaining Europeans’ data in a long-running dispute with Meta led to the court vetoes, has said he was ready to challenge the new accord if it fails to comply with EU laws.

Under the provisional deal, the U.S. government committed to set up an independent redress mechanism that includes a data protection review court to adjudicate claims while U.S. intelligence agencies will adopt procedures to oversee new privacy and civil liberties standards.

A final deal could take months to be finalised.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, Editing by William Maclean)