September 30, 2014
Yesterday, leading European companies sent an open letter to the EU institutions calling for the successful conclusion of EU-US negotiations on the Safe Harbor.
You can see the letter here: Safe Harbor Letter from European Industry
Readers should be crystal clear in their minds that the Safe Harbor was not designed to help US companies send their data home from their European subsidiaries. It was in fact designed as a tool to allow European companies to find US partners to whom they could send data compliance with EU privacy rules.
When the European Parliament called on the Commission to suspend the Safe Harbor in March, it was a wake-up call for European companies concerned about the willingness of our political leaders to sacrifice our interests for political point-scoring against the USA. I made this point in a blog post in February.
The Safe Harbor is not linked to US surveillance laws, and its suspension would not have any effect on those laws. Instead, suspension would reduce the ability of European companies to find the best partner for data processing, regardless of location. It would probably raise costs and affect growth.
The Safe Harbor is not perfect – what is? But the main problems can and should be ironed out in a constructive and pragmatic manner. The EU should seize this opportunity to help Europeans and European industry. Surveillance laws on both sides of the Atlantic need to be reformed, but that is an entirely different kettle of fish.Chris Sherwood