Nearly lost in all the drama of the last week or so, we seem to finally have a glimmer of hope on the data protection front. It appears that the US government and EU have agreed modifications to the original text of the Privacy Shield and have indicated that a full settlement of the issue could be reached as early as July. The Privacy Shield is the mechanism that the European Commission and US government have designed to allow the transfers of personal data between the EU and the US and replaces the Safe Harbor scheme which was declared invalid by Europe’s highest court. Whilst we do not know the exact details of the amendments, we have been led to believe that the Privacy Shield covers all EU countries plus the EEA countries (Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland). There is uncertainty as to whether Brexit will lead to the UK becoming an EEA member or not. If so then we should be covered by the Privacy Shield, if not then the UK will have to negotiate its own deal with the US (and, of course, many other countries).

There is still ongoing litigation in the Irish courts related to this issue and in a very unusual move the US government has asked to join the case, so that it can defend its own privacy laws and, in particular, its mass surveillance policies. We will keep you posted on this case as the outcome will have implications for the Privacy Shield when it is put into place.

If you would like advice on how your organisation can start preparing for the new data protection legislation, please contact Tracey Wakelam at Exeter solicitors covering Devon, Cornwall and the rest of the UK.