European Union data privacy watchdogs are demanding that a move by US President Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump to crack down on illegal immigration will not undermine a transatlantic pact protecting the privacy of Europeans’ data.
Trump wrote an executive order on January 25 aiming to toughen enforcement of US immigration law. It ordered US agencies to “exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information.”
This basically killed off any agreement that the EU had on safe harbour data transfers. It means that if there is a US company running a cloud operation in the EU it has to turn over any data on anyone.
The EU’s data protection authorities said they would write to U.S. authorities “pointing out concerns and asking for clarifications on the possible impact of the Executive Order” on that framework, known as the Privacy Shield, as well as on another agreement protecting law enforcement data shared between the United States and the EU.
The EU-US Privacy Shield is used by almost 2,000 companies including Google, Facebook and Microsoft to store data about EU citizens on US servers and makes possible about $260 billion of trade in digital services.
It replaced a previous system thrown out by the top EU court on the grounds it allowed US spies unfettered access to data stored on US servers.
The European Commission press office has played down concerns over any threat to the privacy of Europeans’ data, saying the US Privacy Act had never protected Europeans’ data and so any changes to it would not affect EU-US data transfer agreements.
But it might be that the European court might see things differently.