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IP: ISPI Clips 5.68: No Data Flow Disruption Between EU & US--at Least for Now

From: "ama-gi ISPI" <[email protected]>
Subject: IP: ISPI Clips 5.68: No Data Flow Disruption Between EU & US--at Least for Now
Date: Tue, 27 Oct 1998 02:33:46 -0800
To: <[email protected]>

ISPI Clips 5.68: No Data Flow Disruption Between EU & US--at Least for Now.
News & Info from the Institute for the Study of Privacy Issues (ISPI)
Tuesday October 27, 1998
[email protected]
This From: CNET News.com, October 25, 1998

European privacy deadline nears

Tim Clark
Staff Writer, CNET News.com

The European Union will not disrupt the flow of data between Europe and the
United States, even though strict new privacy protections took effect in
Europe yesterday, a key Commerce Department official said today.

The new European Union privacy directive prohibits sending personal data to
nations whose privacy protections aren't as vigorous as in the 15-country
bloc, but Commerce undersecretary David Aaron said today that the Europeans
have agreed to open formal negotiations on how U.S. firms can comply with

U.S. diplomats have been discussing the issue with the European Commission
for six months, in talks described as discussions rather than as

"We believe we can reach a resolution, and we think it is imperative that
we do so promptly," Aaron said, naming December 15 as a target to close the

"The U.S. premise is that the United States has effective privacy
protection but that the approach here is different than in Europe," he
said. "We will seek an arrangement that provides a workable framework on
both sides of Atlantic, where data will be secured and disruption of
transatlantic data flows will be avoided."

The EU's privacy directive, if enforced, could prevent database marketing
firms, Web sites, U.S. firms with European employees, and credit card
companies from sending personal data back to the United States. That's
because the privacy directive bars export of data to nations whose
protection of personal data is not certified to be as strong as Europe's.

The issue remains a sticking point despite earlier hints from the White
House that the problem would be settled by now.

Months of discussions have led U.S. officials to hope that the private
sector-led approach favored by the Clinton administration can be reconciled
with strict privacy laws in many European nations.

The United States is proposing a concept dubbed "safe harbor:" In the
absence of U.S. privacy legislation, American firms could voluntarily
adhere to a set of privacy practices such as those from TRUSTe
http://www.truste.org/ ], the business-backed U.S. privacy group pushing
voluntary privacy guidelines on the Internet. The U.S. and the European
Union will negotiate as to the content of privacy guidelines that would be
considered acceptable protections to allow U.S. firms to send personal data
on individuals from Europe to the United States.

"If companies did that, privacy protections would be considered 'adequate,'
and there would be a presumption that data would be able to flow," the U.S.
official said.

TRUSTe executive director Susan Scott has spoken favorably in recent weeks
about the safe harbor concept, and she outlined the idea to the Europeans
earlier this year.

But privacy law advocate Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the
Electronic Privacy Information Center, isn't sure the safe harbor concept
will fly.

"The U.S. had been saying there was going to be some big agreement, but
there isn't one," said Rotenberg, who favors strong U.S. privacy laws. "So
there is still a question as to whether U.S. firms will be blocked by the
EU directive."

Copyright  1995-98 CNET, Inc.

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