US, EU sign terror investigation info-sharing deal

US, EU sign terror investigation info-sharing deal
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The United States and the European Union on Thursday signed a deal allowing the two sides to exchange more data during criminal and terrorism investigations.

The so-called umbrella agreement, agreed to by negotiators in September, was able to proceed after President Obama signed a bill in February giving EU citizens certain privacy rights considered by the EU to be a prerequisite of the deal.

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The agreement “strengthens legal certainty and enhances the rights of citizens which in turn will facilitate EU-U.S. cooperation to combat crime, including terrorism,” according to a joint release.

The deal, many years in the works, was nearly derailed following the revelations of multiple clandestine U.S. surveillance programs.

But negotiators were able to get things back on track when the U.S. agreed to include a clause giving EU citizens the right to sue in U.S. courts over misuse of their personal data.

Congress passed the Judicial Redress Act in February after some last-minute wrangling over national security provisions in the bill.  

The umbrella agreement must now receive parliamentary approval in order to go into force.

Another pending U.S.-EU agreement involving data transfers is currently bogged down in privacy concerns.

The so-called Privacy Shield, which would provide a legal framework for companies of all stripes to continue transferring personal data across the Atlantic, has faced fierce pushback from privacy activists who say it doesn’t do enough to protect citizens from U.S. surveillance practices.

The passage of the Judicial Redress Act was seen as a show of good faith to EU negotiators working to reestablish commercial data-sharing agreement with the U.S.

But the 11th-hour changes to the bill — from Republicans who saw the legislation as concessionary — rankled some in Europe who saw it as strong-arming. Its impact on the Privacy Shield remains to be seen.

Officials signed the umbrella agreement during a biannual ministerial-level meeting on justice and affairs.

The gathering, held in Amsterdam, focused on ways to combat the migrant crisis and violent extremism.