On 11.01.2017, the Swiss Government took note that a new framework has been established for transferring personal data from Switzerland to companies based in the USA (Swiss-US Privacy Shield). Switzerland will apply the same conditions as the European Union, which set up a comparable system with the USA last summer.

The USA does not have legislation on data protection that guarantees an adequate level of protection in terms of Swiss law. The US-Swiss Privacy Shield replaces the previous Swiss-US Safe Harbor arrangement and improves the protection of personal data. The new framework is needed for the secure, efficient and rapid transfer of data.

Various improvements have been introduced in comparison with Safe Harbor. In particular, data protection principles by participant companies on the one hand and the admin-istration and supervision of the framework by the US authorities on the other will be strengthened. Cooperation between the authorities (US Department of Commerce and the Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner) will be intensified. In addition, an arbitration body is being introduced to deal with claims that remain unresolved through other available remedies. Persons living in Switzerland will be able to address enquiries relating to the processing of their data by US intelligence services to an ombudsperson in the US State Department.

American companies that process data can be certified under the Swiss-US Privacy Shield regime and thereby make themselves subject to its rules. Switzerland will recognize these companies as having adequate data protection standards. Swiss companies will thus be able in most cases to transmit personal data to certified business partners in the USA again without requiring additional contractual guarantees. The head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research EAER, Johann N. Schneider-Ammann will confirm this in a letter to US Secretary of Commerce Penny S. Pritzker.

The new regulatory system corresponds to the solution adopted by the USA and the 31 states of the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA). The fact that the two frame-works are similar is highly significant, as it guarantees the same general conditions for persons and businesses in Switzerland and the EU/EEA area in relation to trans-Atlantic data flows.