United States Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and the Trump administration recently confirmed their commitment to the US-EU Privacy Shield ("Privacy Shield") framework in meetings held with European Union Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova. Commissioner Jourova went to Washington to gain reassurance from the Trump administration that it would maintain its commitment to the Privacy Shield framework.
In an interview on Thursday, Commissioner Jourova stated that Secretary Ross assured her that he understood the importance of Privacy Shield and the commitments and tasks it imposes on the administration. In a speech at the Center for Strategic and Internal Studies on Friday, Commissioner Jourova also revealed that Secretary Ross has agreed to a first joint annual review, set to take place in September 2017. Jourova said the purpose of the review will be to "check that everything is in place and working well." In addition, she stated that the EU Commission is following this year's debates around the reform of section 702 of The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act ("FISA") closely, and how it will affect the data of Europeans. Section 702 of FISA authorizes the US Intelligence Community to target the communications of non-US persons located outside the US for foreign intelligence purposes.
To date, President Trump's rhetoric has largely emphasized the importance of national security. Many wondered whether increased security would impact the privacy of individuals. However, based on her in-person meetings with US officials, Commissioner Jourova stated that she did not perceive that the privacy of individuals will come secondary to national security.
By way of brief background, the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield is a program based on decision by the European Commission whereby companies in the US that self-certify to the Privacy Shield program are deemed to provide an "adequate" level of data protection. The Privacy Shield Framework is critical for businesses to facilitate cross-border data flows from the EU to the US and more than 1,800 businesses have self-certified to Privacy Shield in the first eight months of its operation.
During Trump's presidential campaign, many of President Trump's statements were focused on protecting American jobs, and the reality is that a well-functioning Privacy Shield Framework protects highly skilled jobs in the US in the technology space, as well as other US jobs dependent on transatlantic commerce. Therefore, we can assume that the administration will continue to take a consistent position in supporting the Privacy Shield framework.