Revamped EU data transfer tool may be ready by Christmas

FILE PHOTO:
FILE PHOTO: Executive Vice President of the European Commission Margrethe Vestager addresses the media during a joint statement with German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier (not pictured) prior to the "European Competition Day" at the German Economy Ministry in Berlin, Germany September 7, 2020. Michael Sohn/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

September 30, 2020

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A revised mechanism allowing companies to transfer Europeans’ data around the world may be ready before Christmas, the EU’s digital chief said on Wednesday, in a move aimed at ending the legal uncertainty triggered by a EU court ruling in July.

The Court of Justice of the European Union upheld the legality of standard contractual clauses (SCCs) for transferring data following a dispute between Facebook and privacy activist Max Schrems, who has campaigned about the risk of U.S. intelligence agencies accessing Europeans’ data.

However, Europe’s highest court also said that privacy watchdogs must suspend or prohibit transfers via SCCs outside the EU if data protection in other countries cannot be assured.

The European Commission has since embarked on talks with EU privacy watchdogs to resolve the legal limbo for companies.

“My colleagues Vera Jourova and Didiers Reynders are working very, very hard to look at standard contractual clauses, at least for that to step in as an intermediate solution. They are very ambitious and hope that it can be in place before Christmas,” EU digital chief Margrethe Vestager told an event organised by Politico.

“Because the situation right now is not sustainable,” she said, citing some companies that have put data transfers on hold for now due to the legal risks.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Mark Potter)