EU Privacy Chief ‘Positive’ About Data Pact After U.S. Meetings

  • Commissioner Jourova tells Bloomberg TV she has good feeling
  • Says EU working ‘hard’ to keep hate speech online in check

A meeting with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on the future of a trans-Atlantic data transfer pact has left the European Union’s justice commissioner and privacy czar feeling more positive about the survival of the pact under the new U.S. administration.

EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova traveled to Washington this week to seek assurances from the Trump administration on the deal and whether it will stick to the commitments made under the Obama administration. Ross assured her “that he understands the importance” of the privacy shield, Jourova said.

“I have to come back to Europe with such assurances and to continue working on keeping the privacy shield running,” Jourova told Bloomberg TV’s Cory Johnson in an interview Thursday. “I can say I have positive feelings. I spoke to Mr. Ross, I spoke to the American Chamber of Commerce and representations of various businesses and I had a very good feeling.”

The Privacy Shield agreement, clinched last year, was meant to keep data flowing across the Atlantic while ensuring that Europeans enjoyed safeguards from snooping by U.S. security services. The deal plugged holes that led EU judges to overturn a previous accord dating back to 2000, and was greeted with relief by U.S. companies that process personal data from billing details to messaging platforms.

“At this moment I am quite positive, but of course we need to get more information on how the privacy shield is functioning,” Jourova said in the interview.

In Europe, the discussion about hate speech has in the past few months become an increasingly pressing issue in Germany, where incidents of online hate have soared as the country has absorbed more than 1 million refugees since the start of 2015. Facebook Inc., Google and Twitter Inc. last year agreed to remove posts that contain hate speech within 24 hours.

‘Extremism, Racism’

“We see that in the EU, extremism, racism and xenophobia is on the rise so we
want to do our best to secure the protection of people by imposing strict rules
which are prohibiting hate speech online,” Jourova said.

“There is a wide range of issues we try to solve in the EU and we want to do it in a targeted way so that we don’t hinder the development in the digital sphere,” she added.

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