US president signs decree to protect data European citizens

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US President Joe Biden has signed a decree stating that Europeans’ privacy must be better protected against possible abuse by intelligence services. It is now up to the European Commission to determine whether the pact meets the requirements.

The presidential decree instructs the US government to take certain measures against the use of data from European citizens, such as according to a press release. For example, US intelligence services such as the NSA are now only allowed to work overseas if it has ‘predefined national security goals’. They must also guarantee the privacy and civil rights of any subjects, regardless of their nationality or place of residence. It is important that actions carried out by intelligence services are also permitted under European legislation.

To maintain this, Biden proposes to establish two layers of independent scrutiny, where potential victims of privacy violations can go. First of all, a Civil Liberties Protection Officer checks whether any rights or rules have been violated. When European or American laws have been violated, a binding remediation is determined here.

In addition, a Data Protection Review Court is being formed, consisting of independent ‘judges’ from outside the US government. Here it is tested whether the decisions of the CLPC were justified. The decisions of this body are also binding; intelligence services must therefore abide by any reprimands from the two layers of control. It is expected that it will take another six months before the final agreement between the European Union and the United States is signed.

Biden’s steps with the decree are a response to lengthy negotiations between the United States and the European Union. Initially, a line was put through the Privacy Shield, so that data transfer to the US was no longer allowed. The European Court of Justice ruled that this data exchange agreement between the EU and the US violated European laws. At the beginning of this year, a new framework for such data exchange, known as Privacy Shield 2.0, was proposed. According to the US government, the decree signed by Biden would now indeed meet the requirements of the European Union.

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