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.
The European Commission (EC), on 12 November 2020, published a draft decision implementing revised Standard Contractual Clauses (draft SCCs) – (the EC’s Draft). The EC’s Draft was published following the Court of Justice of the European Union’s (CJEU) decision in Data Protection Commissioner v Facebook Ireland Ltd and Maximillian Schrems on 16 July 2020 (Schrems II), which found (amongst other things) that supplementary protections may need to be implemented when SCCs are used to ensure an ‘essentially equivalent’ level of data protection. The publication of the EC’s Draft comes just one day after the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) published its draft recommendations describing how controllers and processors transferring personal data outside the European Economic Area (EEA) may comply with the Schrems II ruling. The EC’s Draft is open for public consultation until 10 December 2020, after which it will undergo a process of review by representatives of every EU Member State (the Committee) who will each need to provide a positive opinion in relation to the EC’s Draft as part of the EU examination procedure. The European Data Protection Supervisor must also be consulted and it is recommended that the EDPB is consulted. The EC’s College of Commissioners may then adopt the EC’s final decision