‘Laughable’ US AG blames media for Safe Harbour death

11 Dec 2015

The US Attorney General (AG) has blamed “inaccurate and outdated media reports” for the ECJ finding that Safe Harbour is invalid, something one expert thinks is “laughable”.

Speaking on Wednesday about a range of data-sharing worries, US AG Loretta Lynch took exception to the latest cleavages in US-EU data-sharing relations.

In recent months, problems with how data is transferred across the Atlantic – largely one-way – have grown.

Since the ECJ ruled Safe Harbour – the mechanism by which data was fairly freely sent from the EU to the US and back – invalid, businesses have worried over loss of earnings, while US officials have warned of terrorism.

No man is an island

However, Lynch’s claims are pretty new and, at the very least, contradictory. “No nation can fight terrorism alone,” she said, adding “no nation can exist in a bubble of isolation; no country can imagine themselves immune from world events.”

Calling out the European Parliament for seeking union-wide data privacy legislation, Lynch perhaps forgot the 28 nations included in, what would be according to her logic, a stronger, multi-state policy.

However, it is her blaming of “inaccurate and outdated media reports” for the ECJ’s Safe Harbour ruling that caught the eye of Mike Weston, CEO of data science consultancy Profusion.

“Although the striking down of Safe Harbour is inconvenient to US tech companies and unsettling for the global tech community, I think it is laughable to say that the judgment was based on faulty information,” he said.

An erosion of rights

“To anyone familiar with the matter there is a clear divergence between the US and EU in relation to data protection standards.

“This situation was further underlined by the passage of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act in the US last month.

“The Act further erodes what little data privacy protections EU citizens could expect in the US. Add to this the US Department of Justice’s pursuit of Microsoft to hand over customer data held in the US, and a clear pattern has emerged.”

As for a Safe Harbour 2.0, reports throughout the year, even prior to the ECJ landmark ruling, were that it was on the way. However, according to Max Schrems – who pioneered the attack on Safe Harbour – this may not be the case.

US AG Loretta Lynch, via US Mission Geneva/Eric Bridiers/Flickr

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic