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Monday, June 29, 2015

EU and U.S. Officials Optimistic about Resolving Safe Harbor Standoff - Again

Top EU and U.S. officials reported in June that they are close to agreement in their two-year talks on reforms to the Safe Harbor framework. Following Snowden's revelations of massive U.S. surveillance in 2013, the European Commission called for 13 changes to the program, threatening suspension of Safe Harbor if they were not agreed upon. Citing progress following a meeting in Latvia, both U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourová stated that a final accord was well within reach, with the national security exemption being the main hurdle to be overcome. However, this is not the first time that an agreement was said to be at hand: one year ago, Jourová's predecessor, Viviane Reding, stated that an agreement was close at hand, with 95% of the issues resolved. Although the optimism may be questioned, it appears to have been a factor in the decision by the advocate general of the European Court of Justice to delay his opinion in Europe v. Facebook past its scheduled release date of June 24. The case, brought by Austrian law student Max Schrems, represents a fundamental challenge to the Safe Harbor framework, and turns upon the national security exemption.

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