The European Data Protection Board (“EDPB”), adopted on 18 June 2021 its final recommendations describing how controllers and processors transferring personal data outside the European Economic Area (“EEA”) may comply with the Schrems II ruling (“Final Schrems II Recommendations”). The Final Schrems II Recommendations, together with the new Standard Contractual Clauses (“SCCs”) adopted by the European Commission on 4 June 2021, will now allow organizations to proceed with addressing international data transfers following the landmark Schrems II ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union in July 2020.
The Final Schrems II Recommendations have maintained the requirement to carry out a 6 Step assessment prior to transferring personal data outside the EEA in reliance on a data transfer tool, such as SCCs. However, there have been some important amendments from the draft recommendations published in November 2020 in order to:
- better align with the new SCCs recently adopted by the European Commission; and
- allow more flexibility in carrying out the assessment of third country laws in Step 3 by being able to take into account practice in the third country as well as the documented practical experience of the data importer.
Our previous blog post on the draft EDPB’s Schrems II recommendations – accessible here – provides further details on the 6 Step process that organizations should follow when transferring personal data from the EEA to a third country such as the U.S. Here we summarise some of the key differences in the 6 Steps as between the draft recommendations and the Final Schrems II Recommendations.
Lawfare recently published “Why Schrems II Might Not Be a Problem for EU-U.S. Data Transfers*,” written by Sidley Partner Alan Charles Raul. This article was adapted from a longer article on our Data Matters blog, “Schrems II Concerns Regarding U.S. National Security Surveillance Do Not Apply to Most Companies Transferring Personal Data to the U.S. Under Standard Contractual Clauses.”
(*Note that this article was published by the Lawfare Institute in cooperation with Brookings.)
The thesis articulated in the article linked here is that (1) nearly all companies relying on standard contractual clauses for data transfers to the US under the EU General Data Protection Regulation are not electronic communications service providers for purposes of FISA 702 (i.e., only companies in the business of providing communications services would be covered) and (2) data transfers from Europe to the US under SCCs may not be targeted under FISA 702 and EO 12333 because they are (i) quintessential “US person communications” because either the data exporter is a U.S. person or the data importer is a U.S. person, or more likely, both are US persons and (ii) received by a person located in the U.S. Accordingly, the concerns expressed by the EU Court of Justice in Schrems II should not be problematic for nearly all U.S. companies relying on SCCs.
Following the Court of Justice of the European Union’s (“CJEU”) decision in Data Protection Commissioner v Facebook Ireland Ltd and Maximillian Schrems (“Schrems II”), the Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (“FDPIC”) concluded in a position paper published on 8 September that the Swiss-US Privacy Shield no longer provides a valid mechanism for the transfer of personal data from Switzerland to the US.