• European privacy panel reserves judgement until details emerge
  • In meantime, watchdogs delay wider probe of transfer clauses

European Union privacy watchdogs vowed to wait until they’ve seen details of a new trans-Atlantic data-transfer pact dubbed the “privacy shield” before carrying out a threat to probe workarounds used by thousands of companies.

The EU and U.S. raced to reach a new deal on data transfers by Tuesday before the so-called Article 29 Working Party of EU privacy watchdogs threatened to impose tight restrictions on other tools if the deadline wasn’t met.

“It’s difficult to come to a conclusion when you’re facing the political will, but have no real documents” about the agreement, Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, head of the panel, told reporters in Brussels Wednesday. At the moment “it’s only verbal commitments.”

Before taking any further steps, she said regulators will “wait to see exactly what is provided from the U.S. in terms of commitments” and allow companies to use “other transfer tools.”

The EU and U.S, were forced back to the drawing board after the EU’s highest court in October struck down a previous 15-year-old pact, called safe harbor, for failing to offer safeguards to EU citizens when U.S.-based companies such as social media giant Facebook Inc. process personal data on customers.

When the safe harbor was banned, companies that process information across the Atlantic were forced to use alternatives clauses, such as model contracts, to prevent the flow of data drying up.

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