Over the last eight months, an expert roundtable group on privacy has been working to develop a framework of practical steps to bridge gaps between the existing European and United States approaches to data privacy.
The roundtable process was convened at the suggestion of Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the Dutch Data Protection Authority and former chair of the Article 29 Working Party. The roundtable meetings are jointly organised by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology CSAIL Information Policy Project (MIT), USA, and the Institute for Information Law (IViR) of the University of Amsterdam. Participants are independent legal and technical experts in the field of privacy and data protection from both the European Union and the United States.
Roundtables have been held in Washington, DC (22-23 September) and Brussels (9-10 December). The group heard presentations from various government officials from the US and EU, representatives of industry, civil society and academic experts.
Over the next nine months, the group will prepare a consensus report outlining a menu of privacy “bridges” that can be built to bring the European Union and the United States closer together. The efforts are aimed at providing a framework of practical options that advance strong, globally-accepted privacy values in a manner that respects the substantive and procedural differences between the two jurisdictions.
The report will be presented at the 2015 International Conference of Privacy and Data Protection Commissioners, which the Dutch Data Protection Authority will host in Amsterdam on 28-29 October 2015.
From the mission statement of the Privacy Bridges Group: “The EU and US share a common commitment to privacy protection as a cornerstone of democracy. Following the Treaty of Lisbon, data privacy is a fundamental right that the European Union must proactively guarantee. In the United States, data privacy derives from constitutional protections in the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment as well as federal and state statute, consumer protection law and common law. The ultimate goal of effective privacy protection is shared. However, current friction between the two legal systems poses challenges to realizing privacy and the free flow of information across the Atlantic. Recent expansion of online surveillance practices underline these challenges.”
A list of the group's participants is online.
Updates on the group's work will appear on the web at http://privacybridges.org/