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Friday, March 5th, 2021

EU’s Civil Liberties Committee approves stronger data protection standards framework

The European Union’s (EU) Civil Liberties Committee recently approved the framework of new data protection standards for law enforcement in the EU and the United States to exchange information, including to prevent terrorism.

The so-called Umbrella Agreement seeks to ensure high data protection standards for data exchanged by police in the EU and United States. It covers the transfer of all personal data such as names, addresses or criminal records for the prevention, detection, investigation, and prosecution of criminal offenses.

The agreement ensures that EU and U.S. citizens will have the right to be informed in the event of data breaches, have inaccurate information corrected, and have the ability to seek judicial redress in a court of law. Additionally, the agreement also sets limits on onward transfers of data and retention periods.

“This is a big step forward for transatlantic data protection,” said MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht of Germany. “In future there will be high, binding standards and strong individual rights will apply when it comes to the exchange of data between police and law enforcement authorities.”

He said the agreement represents a new way to negotiate high transatlantic standards on fundamental rights instead of the current incomplete standards seen so far.

“It was crucial for Parliament’s approval to have a binding clarification that the Umbrella Agreement is not a legal basis for new data transfers, and that data protection authorities can always check compliance,” Albrecht said.

The agreement was signed by the EU and the United States in June, but will need the European Parliament’s approval before it can be enacted. A plenary vote by the EU is scheduled for Dec. 1.