Call to Omit Data Protection from EU-US Trade Talks

Data protection should be omitted from free-trade talks between the European Union (EU) and the US on the so-called transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP), said EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding.

“There are challenges in getting [the TTIP] done and there are issues that will easily derail it,” she said, according to the text of a speech given in Washington, DC. “One such issue is data and the protection of personal data.

“I warn against bringing data protection to the trade talks. Data protection is not red tape or a tariff… It is a fundamental right and as such it is not negotiable.”

Europe is undergoing a wide-ranging reform of its data-protection laws, which date from 1995.

The EU is also reviewing the ‘safe harbour’ framework,  created to protect US companies that opt in from being sued by European citizens or data protection authorities for non-compliance with the EU’s data protection directive, and to offer the same protection for EU companies operating in the US.

“We expect the US to quickly set its side of the bridge,” said Reding. “It is better to have steady footing on a bridge than to worry about the tide in a ‘safe’ or, after all, not so ‘safe’ harbour.”

She added that once Europe has a single, coherent set of rules in place, the region will expect the same from the US. “Inter-operability and a system of self-regulation is not enough,” said Reding.

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