On 2 May, Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) Chairman Jacob Kohnstamm announced a new Privacy Bridge Project between the U.S. and the EU at the IAPP Data Protection Intensive.  In his announcement, Kohnstamm highlighted the need for these two privacy regimes to find common ground, and to abandon the age-old position that ‘interoperability’ will only be achieved when one regime has made wholesale changes to its privacy laws.

This announcement follows a period of strained relations between the U.S. and EU on the subject of privacy.  With the threat of suspension hanging over Safe Harbor (should the EU Commission’s proposals to strengthen the framework fail) this announcement offers a new avenue of dialogue, which focuses on compromise and the need ‘to find practical, maybe technological solutions’ to the differences between the U.S. and EU regimes. 

The project team will be made up of around 20 experts from both sides of the Atlantic, and led by the CSAIL Decentralized Information Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, together with the Institute for Information Law of the University of Amsterdam.  The project program will include four two-day meetings, with the intention of delivering a paper of recommendations by summer 2015, and a global DPA conference later that year.  The team’s first meeting was held in Amsterdam on 28 – 29 April, with Fred Cate (Indiana School of Law) and Bojana Bellamy (President of the Centre for Information Policy Leadership), amongst others,  in attendance.  The remaining three meetings are scheduled to be held in Washington DC, Brussels and Boston.