Kara Sutton
Former Senior Manager, Center for Global Regulatory Cooperation


September 18, 2017


As data becomes an integral part of our growing global economies, so too does protection of data take priority.

U.S. and EU government officials are convening today in Washington, D.C. to begin the first annual review of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework. The Privacy Shield is an important viable legal tool that enables the transfer of data cross-border between the United States and the European Union alongside commitments to strong protections for consumers.

In its first year, the Privacy Shield has significantly contributed to increasing American and European consumer confidence, while allowing businesses large and small alike to provide products and services across the Atlantic. The EU-U.S. Privacy Shield is successful on many levels:

  • It facilitates the movement of data cross-border for American and European businesses, while meeting the rigorous privacy expectations of American and European consumers.
  • It triggers a thorough review of company’s privacy practices, resulting in demonstrable changes to how they do business and protect consumer privacy, in order to certify.
  • It enhances accountability by establishing a meaningful U.S. government and EU Commission process for addressing any consumer concerns that arise.
  • It ensures timely and swift action in response to consumer privacy concerns, though relatively few companies have received complaints.
  • It is accessible as more than 2,400 American and European companies have been certified, half of which are small and medium sized businesses.
  • It serves more broadly as a model for regulatory cooperation demonstrating that it is possible to find solutions that bridge different regulatory frameworks.

Digital connectivity and corresponding data flows are the lifeblood to the billions of dollars in trade and trillions of dollars in investment that underpin the U.S.-EU economic relationship. Data flows between the United States and European Union are currently the highest in the world, approximately 50 percent greater than those between the United States and Asia. And, hundreds of thousands of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic and across all sectors depend on the ability to move cross-border data.

The Privacy Shield is vitally important for American and European companies to continue to transfer data across the Atlantic and do business and sets a high standard for the protection of consumer data. It has filled the void of uncertainty following the European Court of Justice’s invalidation of its predecessor, the Safe Harbor Framework.

Over the past year, Privacy Shield-certified companies have shown a commitment to the new obligations in the agreement by enacting necessary changes to ensure strong protections for citizens. Meanwhile, the U.S. government and European Commission have worked together to implement a lasting agreement with important accountability mechanisms.

About the authors

Kara Sutton

Kara is former Senior Manager for the Center for Global Regulatory Cooperation.