NEWS24 July 2013

MRA pushes for focus on data privacy after Safe Harbor ‘threat’


US — The Marketing Research Association (MRA) has written to the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade warning them to examine data privacy and the threat to cross-border data trade between the US and the EU.

In a hearing to be held today, the subcommittee is to look at the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership deal which is currently in negotiations between the US and EU.

The MRA’s appeal follows reports that European officials have threatened a decade-old data agreement – the so-called US-EU Safe Harbor. 

The Safe Harbor agreement has seen around 3,000 companies voluntarily sign up to follow a binding set of data transfer rules between the US and EU based on seven principles – notice, choice, onward transfer, security, integrity, access, and enforcement.

However, EU officials suggest that the US failed to meet the adequacy standard for privacy protection, required by its Data Directive, which could lead to the prohibition of the transfer of personal data, contrary to the Safe Harbor agreement. 

The MRA argues that the EU Data Directive actually places significant restrictions on the collection, use and disclosure of personal data.

In the letter, MRA director of government affairs Howard Fienberg said: “As the EU tries to rewrite their Data Directive, it is essential that we maintain the Safe Harbor – our primary protection for the conduct of digital commerce and research.”

He added: “While MRA supports some form of baseline consumer data privacy law, the expansive measures envisioned by some parties go far beyond the baseline – with questionable promise of success. ‘Harmonisation’ of US law to an EU standard may not make the most sense economically.”