European Parliament calls to drop Safe Harbour

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European Parliament calls to drop Safe Harbour

Cliff Saran

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have called for an end to the EU-US Safe Harbour agreement covering transfer of citizens’ data from Europe to the US.

During a debate on Wednesday, MEP Sophie in't Veld, said: "We can suspend the Safe Harbour agreement today and ask the Commission, the US and companies to start working for a real solution."

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At the end of November, the European Commission set out actions, which it hoped would restore trust in data flows between the EU and US, following deep concerns about revelations of large-scale US intelligence collection programme.

The Commission published 13 recommendations, including one stipulating that self-certified companies should include information on the extent to which US law allows public authorities to collect and process data transferred under the Safe Harbour.

Companies should be encouraged to indicate in their privacy policies when they apply exceptions to the Principles to meet national security, public interest or law enforcement requirements, The Commission stated.

Any changes to Safe Harbour would have a profound effect on public clouds such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, most US IT suppliers as well as organisations like Google and Facebook.

"I agree that there are deficiencies and our 13 recommendations relate to all the aspects of the scheme; these are the 13 ways to improve functioning of Safe Harbour," Commission vice-president Viviane Reding told MEPs. "It is a to-do list and it will be up to the US government to recognise the seriousness of the debate", she pointed out, adding that remedies should be "identified" by summer 2014. "Then it will be up to the College of Commissioners to determine how these remedies are put in place", she concluded.


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