Our post on 22nd October 2015 discussed the fallout issues following the demise of the 2000 Safe Harbour Agreement. The issue has prompted great anxiety in UK Government corridors. Conversative minister for intellectual property, Baroness-Neville-Rolfe recently commented: “There is an important principle here that companies must be able to transfer data to third-party countries with appropriate safeguards and we are concerned about the uncertainty this judgement creates”. She has expressed the Government’s desire for the European Commission and US authorities to conclude negotiations swiftly on a revised agreement.
This may be on the cards soon, if the assurances of US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker are to be believed. At meeting in Frankfurt on 29th October, she commented to journalists that “a solution was in hand”. She said: “The solution … is Safe Harbour 2.0, which is totally doable.” Pritzker is cited as saying: “We had an agreement prior to the court case I think with modest refinements that are being negotiated we could have an agreement shortly”.
This will be welcome news indeed as long as it is true, as British business, which since the announcement at the start of October, has been getting very nervous about the implications of legal action companies may face if found to be in breach at the end of January 2016.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has sought to provide some comfort, stating they are “… hopeful that the Safe Harbour 2.0 will emerge and “provide a strong and effective framework for protecting individuals when their personal data are transferred from the EU to the US.” It all sounds rather dry and distanced considering negotiations for Safe Harbour 2.0 have been going on for nearly two years now. But with a deadline around the corner and Santa’s prezzies just being wrapped, it might just go to prove the adage that there’s nothing like staring at a cliff-face to focus the mind, event at this eleventh hour – or so we hope…