European courts have officially reversed the Safe Harbor agreement from 15 years ago. This ruling initially served as the foundation for American companies handling European citizens’ data.
This reversal is in light of an Austrian citizen who claimed his personal data was not being protected correctly by Facebook. This opinion was fueled by the recent events involving Edward Snowden’s accusations towards U.S. government institutions’ information spying.
Safe Harbor originally served as an agreement to guard E.U citizens’ personal information that is collected on U.S. websites and databases. This agreement mandated these sites must explain why the information is being acquired, give an opportunity for users to opt out of their information being circulated to third parties and take precaution to protect this information from unauthorized access. These requirements were intended for all European data acquired by U.S. firms.
This ruling entails new negotiation among European and U.S officials regarding data transfers across the Atlantic. Instead of a mandated process for all of the E.U., this ruling creates potential for separate countries to have their own specific data privacy and storage regulations. A rising number of privacy regulations creates obstacles for U.S. companies with consumers in different European countries. This also could indicate more companies adopting European data centers and infrastructure to avoid transferring data across the Atlantic.