DPA conference debates transatlantic privacy solutions but fails to find any so far

The Data Protection Authorities' 37th International Privacy Conference, hosted by the Netherlands DPA, has held discussions on practical solutions to privacy challenges between the EU and the US. Opening the conference, Chairman of the Netherlands DPA, Jacob Kohnstamm said that the recent Safe Harbor decision by the European Court of Justice requires a political solution, and urged the EU and the US to resolve the issue quickly.

The conference will continue to debate a report that was initiated by Mr Kohnstamm and prepared specially for this event. The Report, Privacy Bridges, proposes more cooperation between the EU Article 29 Data Protection Working Party and the US Federal Trade Commission, accountability and new approaches to transparency such as standardised information notices.

The authors of the Report say that they hoped to find a way to a more collaborative relationship between the EU and US, both at governmental and business levels. Co-Chair, Daniel Weitzner, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said: 'Now we have a basis to avoid the kind of collapse of trust that has taken place.'

Jacob Kohnstamm recognised that the Safe Harbor decision has caused 'unpleasant …tension'. He thought that the pragmatic proposals in the Privacy Bridges report would 'increase protection - even if just a bit.' However, Chair of the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, stressed that the EU DPAs will soon be bound by what is stipulated in the draft EU Data Protection Regulation, for example, on accountability, and could thus not necessarily adopt all the recommendations in the Privacy Bridges paper. Other commentators said that global solutions are needed, as EU-US bridges necessarily left out Canada, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. However, some of the ideas might be applicable to these regions. The Report does not comment on Safe Harbor.

The DPAs adopted, in the closed part of the conference, resolutions on transparency reporting and cooperation with the UN special rapporteur. The papers will be added to the conference website. See www.privacyconference2015.org

More information about the conference proceedings will be in the next Privacy Laws & Business International Report