The January 31st deadline has passed and we still don't have certainty on what will replace safe harbour. This is a particularly big issue for Ireland with the majority of major internet companies headquartered in the country. Could Schrems have put a serious global spanner in the technology works? The knock on effects of a failure to agree could be catastrophic for all sorts of businesses. Every company is so reliant on tech and cloud computing with data being hosted across the world. The major hurdle in reaching agreement is the large divide between EU and US approaches to privacy. The EU is moving towards further protection for individuals while the US wants to be able to share more personal data between organisations. This is all further contextualised by the US current case against Microsoft in Ireland. In this case the US Dept. Of Justice is seeking to compel Microsoft Ireland to release emails in respect of a US investigation. A decision on this case is due to be handed down soon and could further complicate matters. It is expected that the European data protection authorities will present a plan on safe harbour on 3 February. Watch this space!
Almost four months after the European Court of Justice deemed the Safe Harbour agreement governing data transfer between the EU and US invalid, negotiators on both sides of the Atlantic have been trying to hammer out a deal. But despite intensive talks over the past few weeks and through the weekend, negotiators failed to reach agreement. EU sources said that the main obstacle was the issue of US intelligence services’ access to data relating to European Union citizens which has been transferred to US companies. Irish officials have intensified contacts with the European Commission and the US over the last few days. Minister for Data Protection Dara Murphy travelled to Brussels last Wednesday for talks with US ambassador Anthony Gardner on the issue, and was in contact with the US embassy in Dublin throughout the day yesterday.