Governments across the European Union have finally given the green light to a new deal on how consumer data must be transferred with the United States, ending months of delay caused by concern over US surveillance.
Privacy Shield, the new commercial data transfer pact, was provisionally agreed by the EU and the US in February and will come into effect on Tuesday.
The EU’s top court had struck down the previous data transfer agreement, Safe Harbour, on concerns about intrusive US surveillance – leaving companies, including Google, Facebook and MasterCard, in legal limbo.
Representatives of European Union member states mostly voted in favour of the EU-US Privacy Shield, but there were abstentions from Austria, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Croatia, sources said. Austria and Slovenia have voiced concerns that the pact does not go far enough to secure their citizens’ privacy.
The new framework will underpin over $250bn of transatlantic trade in digital services annually by facilitating cross-border data transfers that are crucial to international business.
“Today member states have given their strong support to the EU-US Privacy Shield, the renewed safe framework for transatlantic data flows,” Commission vice-president Andrus Ansip and justice commissioner Vera Jourova said in a statement.