Administration Gets Bipartisan Backing for Privacy Efforts

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Legislators from both parties are rooting for the Trump Administration, specifically the Commerce Department and Federal Trade Commission, to come up with a successor to the invalidated Privacy Shield that allows cross-border data flows with the EU.

The Trump Administration has been huddling with the European Commission to talk about that successor to the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield after the EU's Court of Justice ruled in July that the U.S. can't live up to its part of the bargain.

The Privacy Shield had itself replaced a safe harbor agreement that a European Union court invalidated in October 2015, also over concerns about the U.S. being able to hold up its end of the agreement given the government surveillance revealed by the Edward Snowden leaks. The voluntary framework required companies to provide notice of what personal information is being collected and stored, the purposes it is used for, and an "opt out" mechanism.

In a bipartisan letter to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and FTC chairman Joseph Simons, almost two dozen legislators led by Reps. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Darin LaHood (R-Ill.) and Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) the legislators wrote to express their support for the work they were doing, buoyed by the news that they were working with the EU.

They said it was crucial to establish a "stable and reliable mechanism" protecting data flows between the U.S. and EU countries, adding: "We commend your efforts and support your continued work to develop a successor to the Privacy Shield. Thank you for your leadership on this important issue."

They were preaching to the choir, but pointed out that the shield protected over 5,000 U.S. companies, most of them small businesses. They said they were encouraged by a joint statement made by Ross and European commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders about a potential new enhanced shield. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.