EU, US strike deal on data shared to fight terrorism and crime

2015-09-08 20:32


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Brussels - The European Union (EU) and the United States have finalised a deal aimed at protecting personal data exchanged during efforts to prevent or investigate terrorism and other criminal offences, EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova announced on Tuesday.

Data protection has been a touchy issue in trans-Atlantic relations, due in part to revelations in 2013 that Washington had carried out mass spying on citizens and politicians in privacy-conscious Europe.

The so-called Umbrella Agreement will govern the exchange of personal data - such as criminal records, names and addresses - between US and EU authorities. Negotiations on the deal started in early 2011.

"Robust cooperation between the EU and the US to fight crime and terrorism is crucial to keep Europeans safe," Jourova said in a statement.

"This agreement will guarantee a high level of protection of all personal data when transferred between law enforcement authorities across the Atlantic," she added. 

The deal sets out limits on how data can be used and for how long it can be held, as well as ensuring that information is not passed to third countries or organisations without prior consent.

It also foresees giving EU citizens the possibility to challenge the use of their data in US courts, although the measure must still be approved by US lawmakers.

Following the vote in Congress, EU member states must also give their formal go-ahead on the agreement.

Parallel negotiations are additionally under way to strengthen so-called Safe Harbour provisions aimed at protecting data exchanged for commercial purposes.

  Jourova said she was confident that this work could soon be concluded.

Read more on:    eu  |  us

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