On December 5, the Article 29 Working Party published a Working Document on surveillance, electronic communications and national security. The Working Document is specifically intended to address data protection issues arising out of the Snowden revelations that began in 2013 and the bulk data collection activities of various intelligence and security agencies. The Working Document examines the boundaries between the concepts of privacy and national security, and emphasizes the importance of privacy as a fundamental right in the EU. The Working Document concludes that the activities of intelligence and security agencies should not always fall within the scope of the national security exemption under EU data protection law, and that where the meaning of the term “national security” is unclear, the exemption should be construed narrowly.
The National Law Review announced that on November 26, the Article 29 Working Party released a short joint statement containing a series of declarations on: (i) “European values”; (ii) “surveillance for security purposes”; and (iii) the “European influence”. The joint statement emphasizes the balance to be struck between protecting data protection rights and allowing national intelligence agencies to perform their duties, and the fundamental importance of European data protection rights more generally. These affirmations are particularly significant in the context of both the Snowden revelations and the ongoing Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations.
SCL - The IT Law Community wrote about Article 29 Working Party's Working Document Setting Forth a Co-Operation Procedure for Issuing Common Opinions on "Contractual clauses" Considered as compliant with the EC Model Clauses' which was adopted on 26 November. The Working Document sets out in its introduction the need for a new procedure and recognises some of the current difficulties faced by lawyers in seeking approval.
On Monday, October 26, 2015, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová, gave a speech before the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs on the recent ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union that invalidated the European Commission’s Safe Harbor Decision. The EU Commissioner welcomed the Article 29 Working Party’s statement and, in particular, its support for a new Safe Harbor framework by January 31, 2016. However, the EU Commissioner called for more clarity in the meantime. Accordingly, she announced that the European Commission will soon issue an explanatory document on the consequences of the CJEU’s ruling to provide guidance for businesses on international data transfers.
Following the announcement on the 6th October, the Article 29 Working Party issued a statement regarding the Safe Harbor Decision (Schrems v. Data Protection Commissioner (C-362- 14). Article 29 Working Party calls for a robust, collective and common position on the implementation of the judgment urging Member States and the European institutions to open discussions with US authorities in order to find political, legal and technical solutions enabling data transfers to the territory of the United States that respect fundamental rights.
Read the statement from the Article 29 Working Party.
The Article 29 Working Party, the body made up of representatives of individual European Member States’ data protection authorities (DPAs), has said today that it will not be taking enforcement action against companies that are using alternative transfer mechanisms in the wake of last year’s Safe Harbor strikedown.