Decision will affect personal privacy and risks impacting on Silicon Valley tech giants.
There has been a flurry of executive order activity coming from the White House in the few days that the new leader has taken power, and the lightning speed with which these orders are flying off the desk have a great number of people concerned. Among the orders the Trump has signed is one that breaks down the US-EU Privacy Shield Agreement, a milestone for privacy protection that may very well have been erased with the stroke of a pen.
According to a report by Engadget, more than 1,500 companies including Apple, Google and Microsoft had agreed to abide by the Privacy Shield agreement, which requires the US Department of Commerce to ensure that American companies are operating in compliance. The report explains that, “The US-EU Data Shield agreement is an authorization framework which enables companies to transfer the personal data of Europeans to the US while ensuring that the companies operate within compliance of Europe’s more stringent privacy laws. It effectively ensured that a European’s personal data – that is, any personal data originating from the EU, not just that of EU citizens – would be protected to the standards that the EU demands whether the data is sitting on a server in Paris, France or Paris, Texas.”
Essentially, the order says this: “Privacy Act. Agencies shall, to the extent consistent with applicable law, ensure that their privacy policies exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information.”
There are ramifications not just for privacy, but for the corporate and tech worlds as well. Without the Agreement in place, US companies stand to be barred from doing business with Europe. A number of companies, many of them Silicon Valley mainstays, had signed agreements to abide by the stricter privacy regulations and now risk not having anything to back that up.