Commerce chief blasts EU data ruling

Commerce chief blasts EU data ruling
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Commerce Secretary Penny PritzkerPenny Sue PritzkerThe Hill's Morning Report - Sanders steamrolls to South Carolina primary, Super Tuesday Biden's new campaign ad features Obama speech praising him Obama Commerce secretary backs Biden's 2020 bid MORE is joining a chorus of lawmakers in condemning Europe’s high court for striking down a 15-year-old data-sharing agreement her office was working with European regulators to update.

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“We are deeply disappointed in today’s decision from the European Court of Justice, which creates significant uncertainty for both U.S. and EU companies and consumers, and puts at risk the thriving transatlantic digital economy,” Pritzker said in a statement.

On Tuesday morning, the European Court of Justice invalidated the Safe Harbor agreement, claiming that the U.S. does not offer sufficient data privacy protections to equal the rights of European Union citizens.

Under the agreement, U.S. companies could “self certify” that they meet more stringent European privacy protection laws in order to handle EU data. More than 4,000 firms, including large tech firms like Facebook and Twitter, rely on Safe Harbor to make their transatlantic data transfers legal.

Those companies will now be forced to scramble for alternatives.

Pritzker’s comments come amid a flurry of condemnation from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Most cite the negative impact the decision will have on U.S. businesses.

“By striking down the Safe Harbor Agreement, the European Union Court of Justice today called for open season against American businesses,” Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOn The Money — House pushes toward infrastructure vote Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — EU calls out Russian hacking efforts aimed at member states Why Democrats opposing Biden's tax plan have it wrong MORE (D-Ore.) said in a statement. “This misguided decision amounts to nothing less than protectionism against America’s global data processing services and digital goods. It is a mistake that will wreak havoc on businesses on both sides of the Atlantic, and cost good-paying American jobs.”

“Today's unfortunate decision harms consumers who benefit from transatlantic data flows under the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Agreement,” said Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSchumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Congress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B GOP warns McConnell won't blink on debt cliff MORE (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

Pritzker said that discussions to update Safe Harbor will continue despite the court’s decision.

“We are prepared to work with the European Commission to address uncertainty created by the court decision so that the thousands of U.S. and EU businesses that have complied in good faith with the Safe Harbor ... can continue to grow the world's digital economy,” she said.

She echoed lawmakers in calling for a release of the updated agreement “as soon as possible.”

European regulators have also said that negotiations will continue.

“We will continue our discussions with the United States,” said Vĕra Jourová, the European Commission's commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality. “Our aim is to step up discussions with the U.S. [for] a renewed and safe framework for the transfer of personal data across the Atlantic.”