EU aims to limit US access to personal data

The EU wants to place limits on America’s access to EU data as part of a new data transfer pact.

The limits will apply to the power that US authorities have to request personal data from companies in the EU. One of the main issues in determining the pact has been gaining assurance that personal data from the EU will not be accessed indiscriminately once it has been handed over. The EU Justice Commissioner, Vera Jourova, said that the EU is looking for guarantees that there will be effective control regarding access to the data.

The issue became more urgent in October as the result of the EU dismantling the original Safe Harbour framework – legislation used to transfer data from Europe to the US and also to protect it from being accessed by the US unnecessarily. The end of January was the deadline given by EU data protection authorities for the two sides to develop a new framework to protect data transferred to the US.

Ms Jourova said there are plans for talks to continue around the World Economic Forum, with a meeting scheduled between the EU Commissioner for Digital Affairs, Andrus Ansip, and the US Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker. The EU also wants there to be more transparency on the data collected by the US security services.

One possibility is for the US to inform the EU how often personal data is accessed on national security grounds as part of a review system within the new framework.