Privacy and trade will be considered as linked issues during the looming EU-U.S. trade negotiations, reports Hogan Lovells privacy leader Chris Wolf in one of the inaugural blog posts on the first-ever blog of the International Association of Privacy Professionals, Privacy Perspectives, which just launched. An investigation has begun at the United States International Trade Commission that will examine the impact of privacy regulations on digital free trade and as the negotiation of a EU-U.S. Free Trade Agreement soon will begin—a negotiation that inevitably will look at the issue of the compatibility of privacy laws on both sides of the Atlantic, and that likely will put data protection harmonization on the negotiating table.
To access the full blog post on Privacy Perspectives, click here. Chris will be speaking on Friday afternoon March 8 on the free trade aspects of privacy in a just-added session at the IAPP Global Privacy Summit.
Also worth noting is the article in Inside Free Trade in which it is reported
Technically speaking, the EU would have to make a finding that the U.S. system for data protection is “adequate” before it could accede to U.S. demands to liberalize cross-border data flows.
Chris Wolf also is quoted in that article
Christopher Wolf, a privacy expert and partner at the firm Hogan Lovells, said he believed there will be “substantial friction” in the trade talks over whether the U.S. regulatory system does or does not provide “adequate” protections for personal data. The fact that requirements differ among U.S. states does not mean there is necessarily a lower degree of protection in the U.S. than in the EU, he argued.
While there may not be a central data protection authority in the U.S., there are “many cops on the beat” in the form of regulatory authorities and self-policing practices, another U.S. source added.
Wolf cited a 2010 study from the University of California-Berkeley that found that corporate privacy practices from 1995 to 2010 grew tremendously, with many U.S. companies establishing “chief privacy officer” positions responding to consumer-driven concerns. The report also found that U.S. privacy practices on the ground improved initially for other reasons, including new U.S. sector-specific laws.
For these reasons, Wolf said that it could be argued that the U.S. privacy regime accomplishes the same goals as the EU data protection directive, albeit in different ways.