European companies wishing to transfer sensitive data, such as payroll information, to American companies will now be able to do so securely, should they register for the Privacy Shield Framework.

On Thursday, the Department of Commerce released Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker’s remarks from her conference with European Union Commissioner Vera Jourová in which the two announced the updated EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework. The framework provides both European and American companies with a mechanism to comply with EU data protection requirements when transferring personal data from Europe to the U.S.

The framework will offer transparency on how participating companies use personal data, as well U.S. oversight and cooperation with EU Data Protection Authorities (DPAs).

“The approval of the Privacy Shield is a milestone for privacy at a time when the sharing of data is driving growth in every sector, from advanced manufacturing to advertising,” Pritzker said in her remarks from the conference.

Pritzker said the framework will help business by increasing American trade, opening up more collaboration with Europe, and creating more employment opportunities. She said, from a consumer perspective, the framework will ensure that people have access to the latest technologies and online systems while preserving individual privacy.

DPAs will review the framework annually to make sure it runs smoothly. The DOC will oversee compliance in the U.S.

Although the DOC recently released the framework, the EU and U.S. have been tweaking the agreement for some time. The U.S. and EU first announced the framework in February. This announcement was met with concern over whether the framework could withstand a court challenge on unlawful surveillance. For the past several months, the U.S. and EU have adjusted the framework to make sure it addresses this issue.

“With new privacy protections in place, we are confident the framework will withstand further scrutiny,” Pritzker said. “We worked hand in hand with the European Commission to address the concerns raised throughout this process.”

Companies will not automatically be subjected to the framework; they will have the opportunity to submit certifications for the framework on Aug. 1. In the meantime, companies can review the framework and update their compliance programs accordingly. DOC’s Privacy Shield team will also hold industry briefings to answer companies’ questions as they prepare to certify.

“The sharing of ideas and information across borders is not only good for our businesses but also for our communities and our people,” Pritzker said. “For businesses, the free flow of data makes it possible for a startup in Silicon Valley to hire programmers in the Czech Republic. For consumers, the free flow of data means that you can take advantage of the latest, most innovative digital products and services, no matter where they originate.”


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Eleanor Lamb
Eleanor Lamb
Eleanor Lamb is a Staff Reporter for MeriTalk covering Big Data, FITARA, Homeland Security, Education, Workforce Issues, and Civilian Agencies.