Bipartisan Hill Bigwigs Push for New Safe Harbor

House and Senate leadership on the communications oversight committee's have urged the Department of Commerce and Federal Trade Commission to come up with a successor "safe harbor" agreement on Trans-Atlantic data flows from EU countries to the U.S.

Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Commerce Committee, and Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), chairman and ranking member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, were joined by 52 other members of Congress to call for action.

In letters to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, they say interim guidance is needed ASAP after the harbor was invalidated by European Union Court of Justice (ECJ) in the wake of Edward Snowden revelations about mass surveillance, revelations that called into question U.S. companies' ability to guarantee privacy under the safe harbor agreement..

Harriet Pearson, a partner in global law firm Hogan Lovells’ cybersecurity practice, has called the court's decision an "unwelcome development" but not the end of the world, particularly given the EU-U.S. negotiation on a next-gen safe harbor.

On that point, the legislators ask the FTC and Commerce, which together oversee and enforce the harbor, to "redouble your efforts and conclude a successor to the now-invalidated Safe Harbor Agreement," saying that a revised framework "will represent an important step in clarifying misinformation and providing marketplace stability."

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.