Last October, the European Court of Justice ruled that the Safe Harbor laws that allowed companies to transfer user data between the European Union and United States with ease were invalid, which was a potentially massive blow to American technology companies. Fortunately, the European Commission announced on Tuesday that some Safe Harbor 2.0 laws have been agreed upon by American and European negotiators, and they’re specifically designed to limit surveillance of European citizens by the American government.
U.S. and European Union negotiators reached an agreement on Tuesday to preserve European users’ privacy when data is transferred to servers in the United States, and maintains the ability of U.S. tech companies to legally store European data on their U.S. servers. The new rule is set to replace a 2000 “safe harbor” agreement between the U.S. and E.U. that set minimum standards for data privacy and allowed thousands of companies a streamlined way to certify they were in compliance with those standards. That agreement was invalidated last year by the European Court of Justice, after a complaint by Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems, who argued that Facebook’s compliance with the safe harbor rules wasn’t enough to protect European users’ data from U.S. mass surveillance programs. “Mr Schrems referred in this regard to the revelations made by Edward Snowden concerning the activities of the United States intelligence services, in particular those of the National Security Agency,” the European court wrote in its decision.