Microsoft is desperate to avoid returning “to the digital dark ages”


In case you’ve been living under a rock these past few weeks and aren’t aware, the European Union recently ruled that the Safe Harbor agreement is invalid, which could make it significantly more difficult for technology companies to transfer data between Europe and North America if something isn’t done about it. That’s why Microsoft president and chief legal officer, Brad Smith, has presented his own proposal to replace the system, which he claims will be able to prevent us from returning “to the digital dark ages.”

As thousands of companies on two continents worry about the repercussions from the European Court of Justice’s recent ruling that the Safe Harbor agreement is invalid, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, Brad Smith, has presented a four-step proposal to replace the system and stop a “return to the digital dark ages.” The trans-Atlantic Safe Harbor agreement, which has governed the flow of personal data across the Atlantic for the last 15 years, was nullified on October 6 after the ECJ said it didn’t offer its citizens adequate privacy protections. The ruling came after an Austrian law student, Max Schrems, questioned the safety of European citizens’ personal information in the wake of allegations of spying by US government agencies. European privacy regulators have said that if a new agreement is not reached, they will start to enforce tougher oversight of data transfers, including issuing fines and banning overseas data transfers, by the end of January. Smith said in a blog post that new technology meant an updated version of Safe Harbor has been necessary for many years: “It’s an opportunity whose time has come. This month the old legal system collapsed, but the foundation long ago had crumbled. In recent years it has been apparent that a new century requires a new privacy framework. It’s time to go build it.”

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