[ISN] No Fireworks Expected OVer EU privacy Plan

From: mea culpa (jerichot_private)
Date: Fri Oct 16 1998 - 15:24:36 PDT

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    No Fireworks Expected Over EU Privacy Plan
    By Elizabeth de Bony
    BRUSSELS  Transatlantic fireworks over data privacy standards will not
    erupt later this month, since only a handful of the 15 European Union
    member states will have introduced the European privacy directive in time
    for the Oct. 25 deadline for implementation, said an EU official Friday. 
    The official, who asked not to be named, indicated that the delay in
    implementation is one way to defuse transatlantic tension regarding the
    directive. "This is part of the solution," said the official. 
    The apparent willingness of the U.S.  administration to set up an
    independent body to hear consumer complaints about violations of their
    rights provides another reason for the improved atmosphere surrounding the
    dialogue in this field, another official explained. 
    U.S. officials were unavailable to confirm this position. 
    On Oct. 25 the European Union's data privacy directive, the root of the
    transatlantic debate, theoretically takes effect with the aim of
    introducing high standards of data privacy to ensure the free flow of data
    throughout the 15 EU member countries. The standards give the individual
    the right to review the personal data, correct it and limit its use. 
    But the directive also requires the EU countries to block transmission of
    data to third countries, notably the U.S., if their domestic legislation
    does not provide a similar level of protection. Lack of consumer redress
    in the case of violations in the U.S. has been the major obstacle for
    recognizing the U.S. as complying with these standards. 
    However to date only Greece, Italy and Finland have implemented the
    directive, and although several more will meet the Oct. 25 deadline, it is
    already clear that Austria, the U.K., France, Ireland and Luxembourg will
    not introduce national rules for another couple of months, one official
    "Thus the risk that data flows to the U.S.  will stop is much less serious
    than anticipated," explained the official. 
    Nevertheless when the Commission experts meet with national experts on
    this issue on Monday, Oct. 19, they will indicate that it might be in the
    interests of trans-Atlantic harmony for EU member states that have
    implemented the directive to avoid obstructing data flows to the U.S. 
    But the Commission cannot tell the member states not to implement
    "Instead, we will raise this issue, and point out that the directive
    should be implemented in its entirety  in this way stressing that the
    legislation also provides for solutions to potential conflicts with third
    countries," the official said. 
    Provisions in the directive stipulate that when a third country does not
    respect levels of protection similar to those provided by the EU,
    individuals and companies can conclude data privacy contracts with
    entities in the third country stipulating that EU-compatible standards
    will apply. 
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