Urgent Need for Europe and U.S. to Complete Safe Harbor 2.0

Data Regulators Should Establish Moratorium on New Enforcement Actions Until Agreement Reached
February 1, 2016

WASHINGTON—Following European Commissioner Vera Jourová’s statements on the status of the negotiations on a new Safe Harbor agreement, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) today released the following statement from ITIF Vice President Daniel Castro:

While we are encouraged by the progress made to date, we are disappointed that U.S. and European negotiators did not reach an agreement on a new Safe Harbor framework by the January 31 deadline. A new agreement is necessary to avoid disrupting the transatlantic digital economy and ensure continuity of service for thousands of U.S. and European companies and consumers. Free flow of data across borders is essential to global trade and commerce in the 21st century. Every day that goes by without a comprehensive agreement creates additional risk for businesses, which will translate into higher prices and lower quality services for consumers.

In the wake of the Snowden disclosures, it is understandable that European citizens and policymakers are asking questions about privacy safeguards in U.S. law. But the United States now has a clear set of rules for government access to data, and these rules offer similar levels of protection to those found in Europe and elsewhere. Given the critical importance of the data economy in both Europe and the United States, both sides need to act swiftly to reach a final agreement.

In the spirit of working towards an agreement that restores cross-border data flows, the European data regulators set to meet tomorrow should establish a moratorium on new enforcement actions to give negotiators additional time to find a compromise. Enacting temporary enforcement measures at this point would be premature and impose unnecessary costs on businesses and consumers without addressing the long-term goals of either European or U.S. interests.