Week ahead: EU set to finalize new data pact

The EU Commission on Tuesday is expected to finalize a long-awaited data transfer pact with the United States.

The deal cleared its last major hurdle on Friday, when EU lawmakers gave the so-called Privacy Shield the green light.

The vote "paves the way for the formal adoption of the legal texts and for getting the EU-US Privacy Shield up and running," the Commission said in a statement.

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Officials said the Article 31 group of EU member states' decision to approve the pact demonstrated "strong confidence" in the new arrangement, which for months had been stymied by concerns over U.S. surveillance practices.

While the Commission -- which negotiated the deal with the U.S. Commerce Department -- has stumped tirelessly for the new deal, privacy advocates and some European lawmakers argued that the pact doesn't go far enough to protect Europeans' fundamental right to privacy.

But onlookers suspected that the roiling uncertainty after the United Kingdom's recent vote to exit the EU would push jumpy lawmakers to ease uncertainty wherever they could by approving the deal.

The Privacy Shield is intended to replace a 15-year-old framework used by U.S. companies to make legal transfers of personal data across the Atlantic. The old Safe Harbor arrangement was used by over 4,000 companies, from the hospitality industry to social media, to meet Europe's more stringent privacy requirements for handling citizens' data.

The EU high court struck down the agreement in October, arguing that the U.S. could not be trusted to adequately protect privacy because of its surveillance practices -- leaving many businesses in a deeply uncertain regulatory environment.

The Article 31 group vote was met by immediate praise from business and tech groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

But while the Commission is expected to put the final rubber stamp on the Privacy Shield on Tuesday, the future of the deal is far from certain.

It is widely expected to face legal challenges from privacy advocates, including the activist who brought the original case that led to the termination of the old Safe Harbor deal.

Critics have long warned that unless the U.S. overhauls its privacy and national security laws, no legal framework could stand up in European courts.

On Capitol Hill in the coming week, the focus continues to be on Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBroadway play 'Hillary and Clinton' closing early due to low ticket sales Broadway play 'Hillary and Clinton' closing early due to low ticket sales Facing challenge from Warren, Sanders touts strength against Trump MORE's use of a personal email server -- which the Justice Department said this week did not rise to the level of criminal charges.

In what is likely to a closely watched event, Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Tuesday will testify before the House Judiciary Committee in a Department of Justice oversight hearing.

And on Thursday, FBI Director James Comey will be back on the Hill to testify on terror threats before the House Homeland Security Committee -- but a committee aide said "we can't rule out" that the security of Clinton's server won't be addressed.

Republicans have expressed outrage that the FBI did not pursue criminal charges against Clinton.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Adm. Michael Rogers, who heads the CIA and Cyber Command, will give closed testimony -- postponed from this week -- before the Senate Armed Services committee on encryption and cybersecurity challenges in national security.

The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will also hold a hearing Tuesday on Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingOn The Money: Economy adds 75K jobs in May | GOP senator warns tariffs will wipe out tax cuts | Trump says 'good chance' of deal with Mexico On The Money: Economy adds 75K jobs in May | GOP senator warns tariffs will wipe out tax cuts | Trump says 'good chance' of deal with Mexico Trump administration appeals ruling that blocked offshore Arctic drilling MORE's (I-Maine) proposal to boost cybersecurity by using fewer computerized components in the energy grid.

On Wednesday, the House Oversight Subcommittees on Information Technology and National Security will hold a joint hearing on "Digital Acts of War: Evolving the Cybersecurity Conversation."

 

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