This week, the Department of Commerce released a package related to the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework for transatlantic data flows. In February, the European Commission announced that the U.S. and the European Commission had agreed to a new Framework, but the Department of Commerce’s recently issued package is the first time the text of the agreement has been made available to the public. In addition to including the Framework itself, the package contains various copies of correspondence from U.S. officials discussing matters related to the Framework and how the appropriate U.S. government agencies will ensure the Framework, if adopted, will be enforced. Among other things, the new agreement (i) requires companies to respond to consumer complaints within 45 days of receiving the complaint; and (ii) describes a binding arbitration option for “certain ‘residual’ claims as to data covered by the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield.” Significantly, as noted in a statement from the European Commission, a final decision regarding the implementation of the Framework has not yet been made: “Now, a committee composed of representatives of the Member States will be consulted and the EU Data Protection Authorities (Article 29 Working Party) will give their opinion, before a final decision by the [members of the Commission]. In the meantime, the U.S. side will make the necessary preparations to put in place the new framework, monitoring mechanisms and the new Ombudsperson mechanism.”
On a related note, President Obama signed the Judicial Redress Act last week, which will lead to the highly anticipated signature of the EU-U.S. Data Protection Umbrella Agreement.