Biden Executive Order Aims to Protect US-EU Data Transfers

President Joe Biden has signed an executive order aimed at protecting data transfers between the United States and European Union.

The order, announced Friday (Oct. 7) by the White House and U.S. Commerce Department, is designed to close out several months of uncertainty faced by countless companies following a European Court ruling that quashed earlier deals over worries about American surveillance.

Read more: Big Techs Continue to Navigate Legal Quagmire of EU Data Sovereignty

According to an announcement from the White House, the executive order adds new safeguards for U.S. intelligence activity, “including requiring that such activities be conducted only in pursuit of defined national security objectives” and takes “into consideration the privacy and civil liberties of all persons, regardless of nationality or country of residence.”

The order also creates handling requirements for personal information collected during intelligence activity, and “extends the responsibilities of legal, oversight, and compliance officials to ensure that appropriate actions are taken to remediate incidents of non-compliance,” the White House announcement stated.

As PYMNYS reported in September, the EU’s relationship with American Big Tech companies, most notably Meta and Google, has grown tenser in the wake of a landmark ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

In July 2020, the CJEU struck down a transatlantic data-sharing agreement called the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, which was created by the Commerce Department and the European Commission (EC) to make sure that the requirements of the EU’s General Data Protection Legislation (GDPR) were adhered to when transmitting personal data from the EU to the U.S.

In March, Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the European Union-U.S. Data Privacy Framework (EU-U.S. DPF), which is a preliminary agreement permitting data transfers between the two regions.

Read more: US and EU Reach Preliminary Deal to Continue Data Flows

“The EU-U.S. DPF includes robust commitments strengthening the safeguards for U.S. signals intelligence activities, which will ensure the privacy of EU personal data and create a new mechanism for EU individuals to seek redress if they believe they are unlawfully targeted by such activities,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement.

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