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Biden Administration Should Hold EU Accountable for Unfair Targeting of US Firms by Data Protection Agencies, Says ITIF

May 22, 2023

WASHINGTON—In response to the European Data Protection Board’s decision to issue Meta a record $1.3 billion fine and order the company to stop transferring data to the United States within six months, ITIF’s Nigel Cory issued the following statement:

EU efforts to cut off U.S. services one by one—simply because they transfer data to the United States—continue despite the fact the EU and the United States have been negotiating a new Transatlantic Data Privacy Framework. Enough is enough. The Biden administration should stand up to the unwarranted harassment of American companies by EU data protection agencies.

The European Data Protection Board’s targeting of Meta dates to Edward Snowden’s revelations about U.S. government surveillance. Since then, the United States enacted extensive reforms to how its surveillance system manages data to address domestic and EU privacy concerns. At recent global discussions at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) around government access to data, the U.S. system was recognized as being far better than most.

But these changes are never enough, and the EU unfairly targets U.S. firms. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation authorized firms to use standard contractual clauses (SCCs) to share data. But firms like Meta face a constant challenge of interpreting the unclear, restrictive, and ever-shifting legal requirements of managing data inside and outside the EU. The EU promised the GDPR would be a “gold standard” for data protection, but five years later, countries are realizing they’ve been given fool’s gold.

At no point has the European Commission or the European Data Protection Board made any effort to put EU member states under the same microscope about how many use surveillance in a way that would clearly impinge EU law. To the chagrin of the EU, the United States created a reciprocity mechanism to assess foreign counterparts’ surveillance practices and safeguards. The Biden administration should use this to finally hold the EU to the same high standard that it supposedly holds the United States, and if it fails to have in place similar safeguards, start targeting EU services for retaliation.


The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute focusing on the intersection of technological innovation and public policy. Recognized by its peers in the think tank community as the global center of excellence for science and technology policy, ITIF’s mission is to formulate and promote policy solutions that accelerate innovation and boost productivity to spur growth, opportunity, and progress.

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