- The European Union officially approved the new Privacy Shield transatlantic data transmission framework on Friday, replacing the now defunct Safe Harbour agreement.
- Most EU members voted to approve the new data transfer agreement, though Austria, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Croatia abstained, Reuters sources said.
- The Commission is expected to formally adopt the Privacy Shield on Tuesday.
The 15-year-old Safe Harbor agreement, under which about 4,000 businesses transferred personal information—such as payroll and human resources information—of EU citizens to the U.S. for storage and processing, was ruled invalid by the EU last October.
"It is fundamentally different from the old 'Safe Harbour': It imposes clear and strong obligations on companies handling the data and makes sure that these rules are followed and enforced in practice," said Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip and Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova in a statement.
The EU and the U.S. agreed upon the new Privacy Shield in February. It mandates that U.S. companies offer stronger protection for Europeans' personal data and also requires the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Federal Trade Commission, in cooperation with European Data Protection Authorities, to monitor and enforce data privacy violations.
But EU privacy regulators had expressed concern that the new agreement does not sufficiently address concerns over U.S. surveillance programs, and called for revisions. In late June, the U.S. and the EU agreed to modifications, including tougher rules for companies that possess data about Europeans and better defined limits on U.S. surveillance. The revisions more clearly outline the conditions under which U.S. intelligence services can collect bulk data. They also included safeguards on how that data is used.