Hamburg Data Protection Authority

On June 6, 2016, Johannes Caspar – the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection – announced that the Hamburg Data Protection Authority (“DPA”) fined three companies for relying on the invalidated Safe Harbor framework to transfer data from the European Union to the companies’ operations in the United States. The DPA imposed the fines on Adobe, Punica and Unilever, in the amounts of 8,000, 9,000 and 11,000 Euro, respectively.

Since the invalidation of the Safe Harbor framework by the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) in October 2015, German DPAs have taken an active role in questioning cross-border data transfer mechanisms, including the validity of the Standard Contractual Clauses and the Binding Corporate Rules, neither of which the CJEU addressed in the Safe Harbor Schrems decision. As part of this effort, the Hamburg DPA made inquiries of 38 global companies that had previously relied on the Safe Harbor framework and have operations in Hamburg to determine whether the companies had updated their cross-border data transfer practices to reflect the invalidation of Safe Harbor. This inquiry has, in turn, resulted in the enforcement action against the three companies.