Privacy Shield is every day further away from returning

These are not good times for US companies calling for the return of the Privacy Shield, the provisional agreement signed between the European Union and the United States in 2016 to allow data transfers between the two regions. Since its approval, voices have begun to emerge stating that, with this legal framework, Europe was leaving its citizens unprotected of some key rights, for which it was widely attacked by privacy defenders.

Four years later, in 2020, the EU Court of Justice struck down Privacy Shield, considering that, on the other side of the pond, the US legal framework does not preserve the privacy of users to the degree that it is mandatory in the old continent. Since then, there is no regulatory framework that has replaced Privacy Shield, which establishes a great limitation for technology companies that, until 2020, relied on this provisional standard for their data management models.

surely you will remember Meta’s threat, a few weeks ago, to shut down Facebook and Instagram (yes, the one that they later said was not such), if a legal framework is not enabled that allows the resumption of data flows between both ends of the Atlantic. And it is that, in reality, what Meta was asking for (other technology companies are also asking for it) is that Privacy Shield return, or a revised but “flexible” version of it. Something complicated, since it was revoked by the European justice. In short, that Europe be more lax in protecting the privacy of its citizens.

It seems, however, that Privacy Shield is even further away on the horizon. And it is that, as we can read in The Hill, the Supreme Court, in a case identified as FBI vs Fazaga, has granted a greater margin of action to the American public administrationincluding its investigative and espionage services, to invoke the rules that allow access to private information, undermining the efforts of associations that guard privacy.

It is paradoxical, since Biden administration claims US privacy protections are more than enough enough to meet European requirements, precisely in order to reinstate Privacy Shield (or a similar regulatory framework) that once again allows data to flow freely between Europe and the United States. A request that, depending on what we think, may have one or other intentions.

On the one hand, of course, we can think that the United States government seeks the return of the Privacy Shield due to the positive impact that this would have on some of the great American technology companies, which are the ones that have been seen the most due to their cancellation. However, history gives us more than enough reason to suspect that the US executive also harbors slightly less “clean” ends. You just have to check history of privacy violations for years we have known thanks to multiple leaks.

Be that as it may, if with the legal regulations in force until this ruling by the US Supreme Court, Europe already considered that the US did not offer the necessary level of protection, after this pronouncement by the high court, the situation becomes even worse, thus removing the possibility of a new Privacy Shield between Europe and the United States.

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