US and EU aim to revive transatlantic data flows in new privacy deal

President Biden said the preliminary agreement will 'enhance the Privacy Shield framework.'

Evelyn Hockstein / reuters

The US and the European Union have struck a preliminary agreement on an updated Privacy Shield framework to re-enable the flow of data between the two regions. A previous agreement was struck down by the EU's top court in 2020 over concerns that Europeans would not be fully protected from mass surveillance by the US.

"We have found an agreement in principle on a new framework for transatlantic data flows," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at a joint press conference with US President Joe Biden. "This will enable predictable and trustworthy data flows between the EU and US, safeguarding privacy and civil liberties."

"Privacy and security are key elements of my digital agenda," Biden said. "And, today, we've agreed to unprecedented protections for data privacy and security for our citizens. This new arrangement will enhance the Privacy Shield framework, promote growth and innovation in Europe and the United States and help companies, both small and large, compete in the digital economy."

Biden added that should the new deal come into force, it will "allow the European Commission to once again authorize transatlantic data flows that help facilitate $7.1 trillion in economic relationships with the EU." He said the US and EU reached other agreements on bolstering renewable sources of energy and reducing Europe's reliance on fossil fuels from Russia.

The provisional deal on data privacy comes one day after the European Union reached an agreement on adopting the Digital Markets Act (DMA), legislation aimed at reining in the power of the biggest tech companies and giving smaller players more of a chance to compete. One provision could force the likes of Meta and Apple to make their messaging services interoperable with other platforms.

At a separate press conference on Friday, Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission's executive vice president for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age, said the DMA will come into force in October.