The Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information

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Bonn/Berlin, 16/07/2020

Press release 17/2020

The BfDI’s statement on the Schrems II judgment of the ECJ

For the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (BfDI), Professor Ulrich Kelber, today’s ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on international data transfers is associated with a strengthening of data subjects’ rights: The ECJ makes it clear that international data traffic is still possible. However, the fundamental rights of European citizens must be respected. Now, special safeguards have to be taken for the data exchange with the USA. Companies and authorities can no longer transfer data on the basis of the Privacy Shield, which has been declared null and void by the ECJ. With regard to the transition, we will, of course, provide intensive advice.”

The BfDI will even tomorrow engage into coordination with his European colleagues: “The ECJ has confirmed and strengthened the role of data protection supervisory authorities. As to each single data processing operation, they have to check and be able to check whether the high requirements of the ECJ are met. This also means that these authorities will prohibit the data exchange if the conditions are not complied with. Companies and authorities as well as supervisory authorities now have the complex task of applying the judgment in practice. We will urge rapid implementation in particularly relevant cases”.

The ECJ’s decision provides a clearer framework for international data traffic with the European Union. In this context, the ECJ places high demands on the special safeguards, such as standard contractual clauses, which have to be adopted by companies and authorities, and which have to be controlled by supervisory authorities. The BfDI will issue a further statement after the publication of the entire judgment and the deliberations in the European Data Protection Board. In this context, the focal point will be the revision of the standard contractual clauses by the European Commission, as well as the need for the USA to ensure that the European people enjoy the same fundamental rights as US-nationals.