EU Data Protection Directive

On December 15, the Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) of the European Parliament issued a press release announcing a provisional political agreement between the European Parliament and Council negotiators on the texts of both the General Data Protection Regulation and the Police & Judicial Cooperation Data Protection Directive.  Formal approval by the Council is expected shortly and by the European Parliament in early 2016, after which the legislation will be published in the Official Journal.  The new provisions will apply two years later, in the first quarter of 2018.

A number of jurisdictions around the world follow the lead from Europe in relation to data protection and impose similar restrictions on the export of personal data unless there is an “adequate level” of protection offered in the recipient jurisdiction. The EU Commission’s “US Safe Harbor” decision had permitted the transfer of personal data between Europe and the US by establishing that an adequate level of data protection was ensured by the EU-US Safe Harbor scheme.

As we have written extensively, the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ’s) ruling in the Schrems case on October 6, 2015 may effectively invalidate the US-EU Safe Harbor framework. While we believe that the Advocate General’s rationale for the proposal is weak, organizations that rely on the Safe Harbor are anxious about the consequences such a decision could have on their operations, and want to make appropriate mitigation plans.

In January, we commented on the release of a consultation paper by Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) relating to proposed employment regulations. At the time, ADGM indicated that it would not be introducing more general legislation to regulate the handling and processing of personal data in the new free zone.

The Board of Directors of ADGM has subsequently reconsidered the issue and issued a consultation paper inviting public comment on a proposed set of standalone data protection regulations. This would be an alternative to the individual provisions currently legislating for a limited level of data protection on the employment regulations.