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US Government Privacy Practices Questioned By Dutch Data Center Association

May 13, 2016

An agreement designed to protect data traveling between the European Union and the U.S. has come under fire from an alliance of Dutch data center providers and equipment vendors. The current draft of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield agreement, which was recently announced as a replacement for the Safe Harbor Framework, is under scrutiny from the alliance for failing to safeguard the privacy of European citizens.

A product of the European Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Privacy Shield enacts strong obligations for the handling of EU citizens’ data. It also provides clear safeguards and transparency obligations regarding access by U.S. government agencies and includes new redress and complaint resolution mechanisms for EU citizens.

But the Dutch Datacenter Association, which includes the world’s two largest data center providers, Equinix and Digital Realty, doesn’t believe the Privacy Shield goes far enough in protecting EU citizens. The Association is following the lead of the Article 29 Working Party, a regulatory group of data protection officials from all EU member states. The group said last month that it had considerable reservations about certain provisions in the working draft of the Privacy Shield agreement.

The fears are all centered around protecting European citizens and data from mass surveillance by U.S. government agencies. But the Internet Infrastructure Coalition, a U.S. partner of the Dutch Datacenter Association, is supporting its European counterparts.

“We believe that many of the concerns raised by the Working Party can be resolved with further discussions,” said David Snead, president of the Coalition, in a statement.

Businesses on both sides of the pond stand to benefit from passage of the Privacy Shield agreement as it governs a massive amount of trans-Atlantic data. The previous Safe Harbor Framework, in use since 2009, has governed the business dealings of more than 4,400 companies in a variety of industries. The Court of Justice of the European Union invalidated the Framework last October, questioning whether the U.S. was maintaining equivalent protections of EU citizen data as its European counterparts.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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