The Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information

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Bonn/Berlin, 15/11/2019

Press release 27/2019

The Privacy Shield - Light and Shadow

The report of the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) on the third annual Joint Review of the EU-US data protection framework called “Privacy Shield” welcomes positive developments. However, there are still significant points of criticisms.

The Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (BfDI), Ulrich Kelber, provides a differentiated assessment of the developments: The important supervisory board, which is the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, has been fully staffed again. A new ombudsperson has been appointed. These are the first important steps towards a better supervision of the security services in the US, and thus also for the protection of European citizens, and further steps have to follow. Furthermore, there is still a lack of follow-up checks as to whether the US-companies certified under the Privacy Shield actually comply with its requirements.

The joint review, which took place in September 2019 in Washington with the participation of one staff member of the BfDI, was marked by the influence of the oral proceedings before the ECJ in the so-called "Schrems II"-case. In these proceedings, which are expected to provide key messages on the conditions for data transfers to third countries, the judges also asked many questions on the Privacy Shield. The ECJ’s decision is expected for the first half of 2020.

The EU-US Privacy Shield is a framework between the European Union and the US-American government setting out the conditions under which data can be legally transferred from the EU to certified US-American companies.