12 Nov 2015

Safe Harbour or into the storm? EU-US data transfers after the Schrems judgment

Sergio Carrera / Elspeth Guild

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Authors: Sergio Carrera and Elspeth Guild

Series: Liberty & Security in Europe   No of pp: 6

In its recent Schrems judgment the Luxembourg Court annulled Commission Decision 2000/520 according to which US data protection rules are sufficient to satisfy EU privacy rules regarding EU-US transfers of personal data, otherwise known as the ‘Safe Harbour’ framework. What does this judgment mean and what are its implications for EU-US data transfers?

In this paper the authors find that this landmark judgment sends a strong message to EU and US policy-makers about the need to ensure clear rules governing data transfers, so that people whose personal data is transferred to third countries have sufficient legal guarantees. Without such rules there is legal uncertainty and mistrust. Any future arrangement for the transatlantic transfer of data will therefore need to be firmly anchored in a framework of protection commensurate with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the EU's data protection architecture.

Sergio Carrera is Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Justice and Home Affairs Programme at CEPS. Elspeth Guild is Associate Senior Research Fellow at CEPS.