Article 29 Working Party Issues Guidance on Safe Harbor Decision

By Kelley Chittenden

The Article 29 Working Party (WP29) recently issued much-needed post-Safe Harbor guidance. In a landmark ruling on October 6, 2015, the European Court of Justice declared the Safe Harbor agreement between the United States and the European Union invalid, leaving many companies with international operations in legal limbo. The agreement had been in place since 2000 and required over 4,000 companies to treat information moved outside of the European Union with an adequate level of data protection. The ECJ said data protection regulators should have oversight over the collection and use of information from European Union citizens, a belief substantiated in part by the Snowden revelations, which created a sense that American intelligence agencies infringe the right to privacy of Europeans. WP29 issued an opinion this week, appearing to suggest that model clauses and Binding Corporate rules remain viable options and that a new U.S.-EU agreement is encouraged to be in place by next January.