Big biz bosses bellow at Euro politicians over safe harbor smackdown

Disruption but not in a good way

Big business has sent an open letter to Europe's politicians asking for urgent action on a replacement to the Safe Harbor framework.

Following a decision by the European Court of Justice earlier this month that effectively ruled the longstanding trans-Atlantic agreement illegal due to NSA spying, industry has been worried about being caught in legal limbo.

"This invalidation constitutes a serious disruption for the thousands of companies that have relied on the framework for commercial data transfers between the EU and the United States," warns the letter [PDF], which has been signed by more than 20 major industry groups, including DigitalEurope, the US Chamber of Commerce, European Publishers Council, and the World Federation of Advertisers. It is addressed to EC President Jean-Claude Juncker.

The decision, which one of the signatories noted had "caught thousands of big and small companies off guard" has produced "significant uncertainty," the letter states.

As such, it wants the European Commission to get a move on and get a replacement agreed to. "We call on the European Commission to work closely with national Data Protection Authorities (DPAs) to ensure a harmonized implementation of the Judgement, and stress the need for this work to continue as a European Commission priority until these matters are appropriately resolved," it continues, before warning that "a non-harmonized approach ... risks fragmenting the EU's common approach to international data transfers and impairs the EU's ability to develop a Digital Single Market."

It also asks for a "sufficient transition period" following whatever results, and asks the EC to "urgently conclude long-running negotiations" with the United States government and "adopt a strengthened Safe Harbor framework."

Last week, the US government noted that it was "deeply disappointed" by the decision, but realized it needed to act fast, saying that it was "prepared to work with the European Commission to address uncertainty created by the court decision." In the meantime, it appears to be pretending that everything is fine.

Silicon Valley seems to believe that a change to the small print in its terms and conditions can protect it from European law. A generous notion if ever there was one. And Europe's politicians have done what they do best: blamed everyone else for the problem. ®


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