Lords to examine safe harbour further

01 April 2014

The House of Lords Home Affairs, Health and Education EU Sub-Committee will tomorrow question data protection experts and the European Commission’s Director of Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, in the second session of its enhanced scrutiny of safe harbour.

Safe harbour is the name given to the framework developed by the US Department of Commerce and the European Commission that allows the differences in EU and US approaches to their respective citizen’s privacy to be bridged, and enables US organisations to comply with the EU Directive on Data Protection. The current Communication focuses on rebuilding trust in EU-US data flows.

The Committee will begin tomorrow’s session at 10.50am, by questioning Paul Nemitz, Director, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, Directorate-General for Justice, European Commission, by videolink. It will be investigating with Mr Nemitz issues including: the progress in negotiations with the United States concerning safe harbour; what form the broader ‘stock take’, as referred to in the Commission’s Communication on Rebuilding Trust in EU-US Data Flows, will take; how concerns raised in previous reviews of the safe harbour scheme have been taken forward; and the Commission’s assessment of the recommendations by the EU Data Protection Supervisor for greater clarity of the principles, better communication of them to citizens, more inspections by the Federal Trade Commission and that the principles were not designed for large-scale access to data by US intelligence authorities. 

ollowing on, at about 11.45am, the Committee will speak to David Smith, Deputy Commissioner, UK Information Commissioner’s Office and Peter Hustinx, European Data Protection Supervisor.

The Committee will discuss a number of issues with the witnesses, including:

  • the key strengths and weaknesses of the present Safe Harbour Agreement, and how any weaknesses should be addressed;
  • whether they agree that EU citizens’ redress rights need to be bolstered further than the Commission Communications propose;
  • if self-regulation is the most appropriate model and what action should be taken to ensure compliance; and
  • if there are any gaps in the Commission’s planned activities to increase trust in EU-US data flow.

The evidence session will take place on Wednesday 3 April at 10.50am in Committee Room 2.

The session will be webcast at www.parliamentlive.tv and is also open to the public. Journalists wishing to attend should go to Parliament’s Cromwell Green Entrance and should allow time for security screening.

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