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February 2, 2016

U.S., EU Yet to Reach Consensus on Safe Harbor

Image courtesy of (Stuart Miles) /

The deadline for a U.S.-EU consensus on personal data transfers has come and gone with talks stalled on oversight of the transfer of personal data.

The talks are ongoing with the hope that a deal will be finalized in the coming days, but data protection regulators from across European Union are set to kick off meetings today to begin the restriction of personal data sharing with the United States.

“There have been constructive but difficult talks over the weekend,” a spokesman for the European Commission told Reuters. “Work is still ongoing, we are not there yet, but the Commission is working day and night on achieving a deal.”

The talks come after a ruling by Europe’s highest court last October made illegal a deal between the EU and the U.S. that enabled the transfer of personal data.

Known as Safe Harbor, the arrangement was created to bridge the differences between the two continents’ approaches to privacy and provide a streamlined means for U.S. organizations to comply with European data protection laws.

The ruling by the European Court of Justice negatively impacts U.S. tech companies like Facebook that rely on the agreement for the transfer of data about European users back to the U.S.

American and European trade groups had been urging the European Union and the United States to reach a consensus on personal data transfers by the end of last month.

A letter from U.S. Chamber of Commerce, BusinessEurope, DigitalEurope and the Information Technology Industry Council warns both sides that if the issue is not resolved by Jan. 31, “the consequences could be enormous for the thousands of businesses and millions of users impacted.”