EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Passes Third Annual Review by European Commission

Privacy Shield

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On October 23, 2019, the European Commission (EC) – which helps to implement the policies of the European Union (EU) – published its report on the third annual review of the functioning of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield the confirms that the United States continues to ensure an adequate level of protection for personal data transferred from the EU to participating companies in the U.S., according to a press release from the Commission.

Since the second annual review, there have been improvements in the functioning of the framework, as well as appointments to key oversight and redress bodies. Being in the third year of the Shield’s operation, the third review focused on the lessons learned from its practical implementation and day-to-day functionality. As of October of 2019, there are about 5,000 companies participating in this EU-U.S. data protection framework.

“With around 5,000 participating companies, the Privacy Shield has become a success story,” Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers, and Gender Equality, stated in the press release. “We will continue the digital diplomacy dialogue with our U.S. counterparts to make the Shield stronger, including when it comes to oversight, enforcement and, in a longer term, to increase convergence of our systems.”

Among the improvements, the third review notes that the U.S. Department of Commerce is ensuring the necessary oversight in a more systematic manner by, for example, carrying out monthly checks of a sample of companies to verify compliance with Privacy Shield principles. Enforcement action has improved with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) taking enforcement action related to the Privacy Shield in several cases.

The third review recommended steps be taken to better ensure the effective functioning of the Privacy Shield in practice, including strengthening the (re)certification process for participating companies by shortening the time of the (re)certification process; expanding compliance checks, including concerning false claims of participation in the framework; and developing additional guidance for companies related to human resources data.

The EU-U.S. Privacy Shield decision was adopted on July 12, 2016, and the Privacy Shield framework became operational on August 1, 2016. It protects the fundamental rights of anyone in the EU whose personal data is transferred to certified companies in the United States for commercial purposes and brings legal clarity for businesses relying on transatlantic data transfers. To learn more, visit www.privacyshield.gov.

In September of 2019, Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check provider with capabilities in more than 240 countries and territories – has received notification from the International Trade Administration (ITA) that ESR’s annual submission for its self-certification of adherence to the EU-U.S. and Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield Frameworks has been finalized and is effective as of September 17, 2019.

Organizations must self-certify to the ITA annually their adherence to the Frameworks in order to remain on the Privacy Shield List. ESR was one of the first adopters of Privacy Shield with an original certification date of August 12, 2016, less than two weeks after the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework officially launched on August 1, 2016. ESR’s Active Participant page on the list of certified Privacy Shield companies is available here.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leader in background check compliance – is accredited by the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA), undergoes annual SSAE 18 SOC 2® Type 2 audits, adheres to the Privacy Shield Framework, complies with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and has award-winning background screening technology. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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