Until October of last year, approximately 5,000 businesses self-certified that they would provide adequate protection of European citizens' data once it was in the US for processing, under the 15-year old Safe Harbor Agreement. That agreement has now been ruled invalid by Europe’s top court, leaving companies scrambling to figure out how to operate legal data transfers. Recent articles in the New York Times and Tech Crunch reported on the issue.
Companies that store the personal data of European users in the US must take action now as the US does not have adequate data protection legislation. The Safe Harbor Agreement had eliminated the extensive legal declarations previously required, enabling the simple yet legally compliant data exchange with the US. In its ruling, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the US does not meet the minimal level of data protection in accordance with the European standard. Data in the US is not sufficiently protected against government access. In the event of data misuse, European users have no way to take legal action in the US. In the absence of the Safe Harbor Agreement and/or until a new understanding is reached between the Eurpoean Union (EU) and US, the data exporter is exposed to legal sanctions if data continues to be transferred.
A Good Option for US Companies
Last year, Digital West began partnering with Green Data Center in Switzerland to provide colocation in its state-of-the art, highly secure facility. The EU has already confirmed that the level of data protection in Switzerland is at least equivalent to that of the EU, therefore a separate agreement like that of Safe Harbor for US providers is unnecessary. Personal data from the EU can continue to be processed in all Green data centers. For now, the transfer of data between Switzlerand and the EU remains unaffected by the ECJ ruling.
If you do business in Europe and/or had previously been operating under the Safe Harbor Agreement, we strongly recommend you consider Green as an option. You can learn more on the Digital West website or contact us for more information.