FPF Responds to European Commission Report on US-EU Safe Harbor and Finds Criticisms Misplaced


 For immediate release, November 27, 2013

Future of Privacy Forum Responds to European Commission Report on US-EU Safe Harbor and Finds Criticisms Misplaced

Washington, D.C. November 27, 2013 – The Future of Privacy Forum (FPF), a think tank focused on advancing personal privacy, responded to the European Commission statements on the US-EU Safe Harbor program including a threat that the EU will terminate the agreement in mid-2014 unless certain conditions are met.  FPF cautioned against the precipitous termination of the program that has demonstrable benefits for the protection of EU personal data transferred from the EU to the US.  FPF is preparing an in-depth report on the Safe Harbor that will address the concerns presented by the European Commission.

Christopher Wolf, Founder and Co-Chair of FPF said:  “Regrettably, officials in the EU have conflated the issues raised by the recent NSA revelations with the issue of whether the Safe Harbor provides effective protection for the personal data of EU citizens.  The issue of national security access to personal data needs to be addressed separately, for example in government talks focused on that issue, not through threats to terminate a demonstrably effective framework for protecting privacy in commercial cross-border flows of personal data.  On first reading, the European Commission’s analysis of the operation of the Safe Harbor does not reveal any significant deficiencies, certainly not enough to call for termination of the cross-border data transfer arrangement.  It is clear that the main area of concern is national security access to data, which is not what the Safe Harbor was intended to or can address.”

Jules Polonetsky, Director and Co-Chair of FPF added:  “The Safe Harbor doesn’t protect against law enforcement or intelligence access, but it provides EU citizens with significant protections against consumer privacy abuses which the Commission risks undermining.  A forthcoming report by the Future of Privacy Forum will examine the efficacy of the Safe Harbor, including what it would mean for the privacy of European citizen data if the Safe Harbor were to be terminated.”

FPF recommends that rather than suspending the Safe Harbor, European and American policymakers should work together to strengthen the program and continue to address questions of national security in a separate context.

To schedule an interview with Christopher Wolf or Jules Polonetsky, email: [email protected]