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Monday, 01 February 2016 15:43

Safe Harbour 2.0 misses the deadline boat

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US and EU authorities fail to make a decision on what replaces the Safe Harbour legislation dismantled in October 2015, expect data centres to start springing up everywhere

As we reported last week, last night was the deadline for the next version of Safe Harbour aka Safe Harbour 2.0 or Safe Harbor 2.0 if you’re in the US,  and surprise surprise they missed the deadline, so it’s now back to the negotiation table and more talking, that’s if they can hear themselves over the sounds of data centre owners and developers partying in the next room.

After long and protracted discussions, authorities from US and Europe tasked with hammering out a new Safe Harbour ruling were unable to reach a promised agreement on how data is transferred between the regions. The 31st of January deadline set by European regulators for US authorities to provide an updated Safe Habour passed, and the only agreement reached was that European officials will meet in Brussels tomorrow for further discussions.

Commenting on the failed discussions Nigel Hawthorn, chief European spokesperson at Skyhigh Networks, believes that tomorrow’s outcome could open the floodgates for a free for all on complaints and legal action against businesses transferring user data from Europe to the US.

“The failure between US and European authorities to reach a decision is indicative of how difficult the entire process has been. Last night was another deadline missed and, with Europe’s privacy regulators meeting in Brussels tomorrow, the floodgates could be about to open. The ICO and other EU country regulators will no doubt have a long backlog of complaints from individuals claiming to be the next ‘Max Schrems’ and, depending on tomorrow’s outcome, we could see regulators go after some very big fish.

Max Schrems took Facebook to the European Courts over his data rights and was central to the Safe Harbour legislation getting the boot in October. Since last year he has filed three more complaints against Facebook with Data Protection Authorities (DPA's) in Belgium, Ireland, and Hamburg in order to enforce a judgment on Facebook.

Hawthorn concluded. “With politicians taking so long to get anything agreed, the discussions are in danger of becoming irrelevant. The business wheel is constantly turning. A Safe Habor 2.0 has been promised, but US organisations aren’t waiting and are instead amending their operations to keep data in the EU.”

Interestingly Facebook and many other businesses do not rely on Safe Harbour for its data transfers and instead use pre-approved contractual agreements called "model clauses". Schrems argues that these agreements also incorporate exceptions for cases of illegal mass surveillance, and the Court of Justice of the European Union ruling that killed Safe Harbour also applies to these agreements.

The answer is to use European data centres, figures show more than a quarter (27%) of cloud services now offer to store data in the EU, that’s twice as many compared to six months ago.

If you have any spare money we recommend you invest heavily in data centre shares as they’re all sure to rocket. Fill your boots as they used to say….. 

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