Study: EU-US Privacy Shield Essential to Leading European Companies

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European Union

New FPF Study Documents More Than 100 European Companies Participating in the Privacy Shield Program

From Major Employers such as Ingersoll-Rand and Lidl Stiftung to Leading Technology Firms like Telefónica, RELX, and TE Connectivity, European Companies Depend on the EU-US Agreement

EU Firms are Signing up for Privacy Shield at a High Rate – the One-Year-Old Privacy Shield Program Includes a Larger Percentage of EU Companies than the Predecessor Safe Harbor Program

Termination of the Privacy Shield Program Could Inhibit European Employment – Nearly One Third of Privacy Shield Companies Rely on the Framework to Transfer HR Information of European Staff

The Future of Privacy Forum conducted a study of the companies enrolled in the US-EU Privacy Shield program and determined that 114 European headquartered companies are active Privacy Shield Participants. These European companies rely on the program to transfer data to their US subsidiaries or to essential vendors that support their business needs.

FPF staff also found that EU companies comprise 5.2% of all Privacy Shield companies, an increase over the 3.5% of all companies that were based in Europe under the previous EU-US Safe Harbor Program in 2014. At only a year old, the number of Privacy Shield participants is already greater than 2,000 and typically grows by several members each week.

Leading EU companies that rely on Privacy Shield include:

ABB, Swiss electrical equipment company
CNH Industrial America, Dutch capital goods company
Ingersoll-Rand, Irish globally diversified industrial company
Lidl Stiftung, German grocery market chain
NCS Pearson, British education assessment and publishing company
Reckitt Benckiser, British consumer goods company
RELX, British and Dutch information and analytics company
TE Connectivity, Swiss consumer electronics company
Telefónica, Spanish mobile network provider

With the first annual review of the Privacy Shield framework underway, it is important for parties on both sides of the Atlantic to recognize the program’s benefits to the US and to Europe. Although no system is perfect, there is substantial value for many stakeholders, including leading European companies, in maintaining Privacy Shield protections for companies and consumers in both the United States and Europe.

FPF research also determined that over 700 companies, nearly a third of the total number analyzed, use Privacy Shield to process their human resources data. Inhibiting the flow of HR data between the US and EU could mean delays for EU citizens receiving their paychecks, or a decline in global hiring by US companies. Therefore, employees stand to lose if the Privacy Shield were terminated or materially altered.

The research identified 114 Privacy Shield companies headquartered or co-headquartered in Europe. This is a conservative estimate of companies that would be impacted by cancelation of the Privacy Shield framework – FPF staff did not include global companies that have major European offices but are headquartered elsewhere. The 114 companies include some of Europe’s largest and most innovative employers, doing business across a wide range of industries and countries. EU-headquartered firms and major EU offices of global firms depend on the Privacy Shield program so that their related US entities can effectively exchange data for research, to improve products, to pay employees and to serve customers. These companies would be severely burdened and disadvantaged by termination of the Privacy Shield program. Given the importance of this mechanism to companies and consumers on both sides of the Atlantic, FPF recommends that the Privacy Shield arrangement be preserved.

Methodology:

• FPF staff recorded a list of 2,188 active Privacy Shield companies as of July 2017 from https://www.privacyshield.gov.
• FPF staff performed a web search for each current company by name, checking the location of the company’s headquarters on a combination of public databases such as LinkedIn, CrunchBase, Bloomberg, and the company’s own website.
• A company that listed its headquarters in an EU member state or in Switzerland was counted as a match; companies that merely had a prominent EU office or founded in an EU member state were not counted.
• 114 total EU-headquartered companies were identified using this method.

For the full list of European companies in the Privacy Shield program, or to schedule an interview with John Verdi or Jules Polonetsky, email [email protected].