E.U. justice chief ‘confident’ data deal with U.S. will survive legal challenge
European Union Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders expressed conviction that the bloc’s closely watched agreement with President Biden on data flows will withstand legal scrutiny, even as final contours of the deal are still being hashed out.
“I’m quite confident in the fact that we have a robust solution, taking into account the specificities of the American legal system and the specificity of what is possible to do or not with the different actors,” he said during a sit-down with reporters and editors at The Washington Post last week.
The two sides have been working for months to hammer out a framework to safeguard user data that’s transferred across the Atlantic, replacing the E.U.-U.S. Privacy Shield pact that was struck down by European courts in 2020.
The negotiations are among the most closely watched for tech companies in Silicon Valley that relied on the now-defunct deal to securely transfer data between the United States and European Union. The pact was struck down over concerns about a lack of guardrails against U.S. government surveillance.
In March, Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced an agreement in principle on a framework to replace Privacy Shield. The preliminary deal sought to satisfy concerns voiced by Europe’s top court in 2020 by minimizing the U.S. collection of European users’ data and providing them legal recourse to object to U.S. surveillance practices.
But the two sides have yet to release final text for the deal, which would then need to undergo vetting in the E.U. before implementation and is likely to face another legal challenge.
Reynders, who has purview over issues ranging from privacy to artificial intelligence, said he expects that legal text may surface “in the next weeks,” partially in the form of a U.S. executive order, which would then kick off a lengthy review process in Europe.
“To have an adequacy decision on our side will take around six months, so will be [on course] for the end of the year, the first quarter of next year, if it’s possible to exchange on the legal text before the summer,” Reynders said.
The E.U. commissioner said the topic was a major focus during his recent meetings with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Attorney General Merrick Garland, whose agencies are set to play a key role in executing the terms of the deal on data flows. Commerce Department spokespeople declined to comment on the meeting; spokespeople for the Justice Department and the White House did not return a request for comment.
Great meeting with @SecRaimondo.
Thank your for our fruitful discussion on our continued cooperation on safe data flows between 🇪🇺🇺🇸 within the Trans-Atlantic Data Privacy Framework, as well as on other important digital initiatives. pic.twitter.com/iVmdihr92M
— Didier Reynders (@dreynders) June 2, 2022
Fruitful and promising meeting with AG Garland @TheJusticeDept for further enhanced cooperation on justice-related matters.
— Didier Reynders (@dreynders) June 2, 2022
Reynders offered few details on how talks have progressed since the two sides announced their tentative agreement in March.
But he said he believes the two sides have found “very innovative” ways to address the concerns voiced by Europe’s top court, even with the limitations they have faced — namely, the lack of congressional action on surveillance reform in the United States.
“I’m quite confident that we will have a correct translation of the agreement. Enough to convince all the stakeholders? We’ll try, but I know that we will have some stakeholders against this agreement, like against the previous one. So we will have to defend [it],” he said.
Business and industry groups are anxiously waiting for the two sides to formalize the deal. Aaron Cooper, vice president of global policy for tech grade group BSA, said companies likely won’t exhale until the E.U.’s review process is complete.
“When the U.S. puts out its new rules, and when the E.U. approves an adequacy determination, I think that will put all data transfers between the E.U. and the U.S. on really strong solid footing again,” said Cooper, whose group counts Microsoft, Oracle and Intel as members.
Until then, it’ll continue to cause headaches for companies, he said.
“Whether you’re a small manufacturer or [large corporation] … you need to be focused on having your business be successful. You don’t want to have to worry about whether data that’s being transferred to the U.S. meets the standard of very various jurisdictions that you’re in,” he said.
Our top tabs
Europe agrees on plan to introduce common smartphone charger
A provisional agreement would make new smartphones, tablets, cameras and some other devices in the E.U. use USB-C ports to charge, Bloomberg News’s Jillian Deutsch reports. Phone and tablet makers will have until fall 2024 to comply, while laptop makers will get 40 months after the rules go in force to comply.
The rules would notably affect Apple, which uses a different charging port for its iPhones. Apple said in 2020 that a common charger “stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, and would harm consumers in Europe and the economy as a whole,” Reuters reported at the time. But Apple is testing iPhones with USB-C ports, Bloomberg News reported last month.
Elsewhere in Europe, dozens of groups from 17 countries warned that a European deal for tech giants to pay for some of the costs of telecommunications infrastructure could put net neutrality at risk, Reuters reports. “E.U. net neutrality rules mean internet service providers can’t block or throttle traffic to give priority to some services,” Reuters’s Foo Yun Chee writes. “Some experts fear this commitment might get watered down in a deal with Big Tech to help fund telecoms networks.”
Social media site used by Uvalde gunman updates safety features
Yubo chief executive Sacha Lazimi wrote in a blog post that the live-streaming social media app will “apply more severe standards to content review and intervention across the board,” the Hill’s Rebecca Klar reports. Yubo will also let users attach up to four records or screenshots to reports they send to the company.
The changes come in the wake of the massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Tex. The shooter, who killed 19 students and two teachers, threatened and harassed teens on Yubo, my colleagues reported last month. One teen said they reported the shooter, but nothing happened. Yubo spokeswoman Amy Williams declined to comment on abuse reports to my colleagues at the time, citing an ongoing investigation.
A key House committee is set to hold a hearing on a long-awaited privacy proposal
The House Energy and Commerce will discuss a bipartisan privacy bill at a hearing Tuesday morning, the committee said. The committee’s Democratic chairman, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.) and top Republican, Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), were involved in reaching a deal on the privacy legislation.
Along with Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), the lawmakers are trying to get the support of Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Jacob Bogage and I reported last week. Cantwell told The Post in a statement that “any robust and comprehensive privacy law must protect consumers’ personal data with a clear requirement that companies are accountable for the use of that data and must act in consumers’ best interests.”
Rant and rave
Europe’s plan to mandate the USB-C charging port has its supporters and critics. Author and photographer Kyle Cassidy:
Investor Steven Sinofsky, a former Microsoft executive:
New EU rule will require all phones and electronics to use a standard USB-C charger https://t.co/d2CnoiCoYh // This is the strangest regulatory flex. In 2009 we had to standardize on microUSB and specific charger specs which made sense for about 15 minutes. pic.twitter.com/TE6u2A48ju
— Steven Sinofsky (@stevesi) June 7, 2022
Meteorologist Rhonda Shelby:
Inside the industry
- Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chair Rostin Behnam and Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Cynthia M. Lummis (R-Wyo.) discuss the future of cryptocurrency regulation at a Washington Post Live event today at 9 a.m.
- I’ll be moderating a Gallup panel with John Samples, a member of the Facebook Oversight Board, and others today at 4 p.m.
- NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson testifies before a Senate Commerce Committee panel on Thursday at 10 a.m.
- I’ll be moderating a NationSwell and the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation panel on building trust in artificial intelligence Thursday at 1:30 p.m.
- Sorelle Friedler, the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s assistant director for data and democracy, speaks at a Mozilla event Thursday at 3 p.m.
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