The Ferocious "Tango" between the EU and the US on the use of Private Information

The Ferocious "Tango" between the EU and the US on the use of Private Information

The privilege of doing almost everything with one click blindsided us to the fact that nothing comes for free in this world. Online Shopping, studying and educating, E-meet new people, working remotely, and even getting medical care, are all a part of a transaction. Only that in this case, the payment method is a bit different. Worth it or not? A matter of opinion, but one thing needs to be perfectly clear. We "pay" with our personal information, or in other words, our privacy.


The greatest paradox in modern times is between the notions of private and privacy. Though there is a natural correlation between these two from a legal and human rights perspective, there is still a colossal dichotomy between how people choose to display it daily via social media against how people insist on privacy rights globally. But in this "play", we are nothing more than extras because the leading parts belong to the higher authorities. They are the ones who collect, use and pass our data. They are the ones who are supposed to protect our private information, which we often agree to provide when clicking on the "Agree" button without delving into the details.


In 2016 a new regulation called Privacy Shield went into effect. This new agreement was made to allow the free stream of private information of European citizens to companies operating in the US. It was initially intended to replace the Safe Harbor agreement after the European Court of Justice overturned and banned it.


What led to this decision started with a former employee of the United States intelligence services, Edward Snowden, that leaked confidential documents, allegedly exposing that internet service giants allowed private access to the US secret services to collect and monitor information from their servers. This shocking story had significant consequences and made headlines worldwide. What led an Austrian student named Max Schrems to file a complaint with the Facebook Data Protection Commission in Ireland against US law's insufficient protection over the US authorities processing European information through Facebook servers located in the US.


The dismissal of this complaint by the Commission was grounded on the Safe Harbor arrangement. Against this background, a formal complaint was issued to the European Court of Justice, which led to the Safe Harbor agreement's termination. While the European Court of Justice found this an illegal exploitation of the Safe Harbor agreement against the European citizens' privacy, the Americans exposed the man who started all of this, Edward Snowden, a criminal.


On June 21, 2013, the Washington Post reported that the United States Department of Justice filed two criminal charges against Snowden under the 1917 Espionage Act. Accordingly, He was charged for the counts of "unauthorised communication of national defence information" and "wilful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorised person".

Snowden is still wanted in the United States on espionage charges. A report published on December 26, 2020, stated that Snowdown is trying to become a citizen in Russia concurrently by the ABS news.



On July 16, 2020, the European Court of Justice (CJEU) found the privacy shield agreement to be exposed to breaches and overturned the arrangement between the European Commission and the US. The decision came after determining that the US's data security does not provide sufficient protection against the US government authorities from monitoring and processing personal information within the country.


So, what is the privacy shield, and what drove this time the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to reinforce positions concerning the enforcement of the Union's privacy protection regulations?


The privacy shield agreement was a new agreement between the EU and the US allowing for personal data transfer from the EU to the US legally following the privacy requirement of the GDPR. But after what occurred through the Safe Harbor agreement, the European Commission voiced a new agreement with more bounded provisions regarding the access to the Europeans private information. Among other stricken requirements, they added "safeguards on US government access to data".


Still, on July 16, 2020, the CJEU overturned the agreement in the argument that the US privacy laws do not provide the same performance level of data security as those in Europe and prohibited from transferring personal information to countries whose laws do not offer a satisfactory protection level and do not comply with the European law requirements and Regulations.


Some of the giant corporations in the world established their operations on the ability to collect personal information. Among them are Google, Amazon, and obviously, Facebook that played a key role in the urge to overturn the agreement.

As the last decade reveals, this is not the end of the affair. At present times, thousands of companies will be compelled to find an alternative strategy for data transfer between the EU-US under the restrictions of GDPR. This enforcement is a long-lasting battle and most crucial. 


Although giant corporations will try to re-challenge the matter in the future, the GDPR has already delivered nowadays an extremely important message. This message declares that the law applies to everyone with no exception, emphasising the Europeans personal information and privacy rights, stating that their gatekeepers are always on the watch.

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