the new Europe-United States agreement raises questions

US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on March 25, 2022, in Brussels.

The announcement of a new agreement on the transfer of data between the United States and the European Union, on March 25, on the occasion of Joe Biden’s visit to Brussels, surprised all observers, from companies in the technology sector to French officials. This framework will“exchange in confidence” digital personal data (identity, online behavior, geolocation, etc.) “with respect for privacy and public freedoms” welcomed the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. But on this sensitive subject, the subject of discussion for years, such a market is debated. It raises all the more legal questions as it is at this stage only a ” agreement in principle “, the exact terms of which will not be specified for several weeks.

“It is problematic to have announced this agreement on the same day as the gas agreement. It’s a bit of a barter”, also regrets the deputy MoDem Philippe Latombe

We exchange “our data against gas”, expressed regret on Twitter Octave Klaba, founder of OVH, the French leader in online cloud hosting, insinuating that this agreement was concluded in return for the supply by the United States of natural gas to reduce European dependence on Russia. “It is problematic to have announced this agreement on the same day as the gas agreement. It’s a bit tricky,” also regrets the MoDem MP Philippe Latombe, author of a report on digital sovereignty. When questioned, a spokesman for the European Commission does not wish to comment on these accusations without proof and assures that the announcement “the result of more than a year of negotiations”.

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If the new “deal” surprises and arouses tensions, it is because it upsets the balance in an ultra-sensitive area. Indeed, in July 2020, the previous transatlantic data agreement, called Privacy Shield and dating from 2016, was canceled with a bang by the European Court of Justice. At issue: access to the data of Europeans by the American authorities and intelligence services, deemed disproportionate and insufficiently supervised, in particular in the absence of a remedy. This decision creates legal uncertainty and poses a threat to the legality of the services in Europe of Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft…

Thus, the activist Max Schrems, at the origin of the invalidation of the Privacy Shield, has since filed a thousand complaints against American services. And sparked the start of a wave of decisions: in February, the Austrian data protection authority and then the National Commission for Information Technology and Freedoms (CNIL) deemed the Google Analytics tool, the leader in data measurement, illegal. hearing. In the same spirit, the government, in mid-2021, asked public structures to henceforth have their data hosted by companies governed by European law, protected by American laws.

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