EU-U.S and Swiss-U.S Privacy Shield Frameworks


While the United States and Switzerland share the goal of enhancing privacy protection for their citizens, the United States takes a different approach to privacy from that taken by Switzerland. The United States uses a sectoral approach that relies on a mix of legislation, regulation, and self-regulation. Given those differences and to provide organizations in the United States with a reliable mechanism for personal data transfers to the United States from Switzerland while ensuring that Swiss data subjects continue to benefit from effective safeguards and protection as required by Swiss legislation with respect to the processing of their personal data when they have been transferred to other countries, the Department of Commerce is issuing these Privacy Shield Principles, including the Supplemental Principles (collectively “the Principles”) under its statutory authority to foster, promote, and develop international commerce (15 U.S.C. § 1512). As the Swiss and EU law on data protection may be considered equivalent, the Swiss-U.S.

Privacy Shield Principles and Supplemental Principles are modeled on the Principles and Supplemental Principles developed for the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework. They are intended for use solely by organizations in the United States receiving personal data from Switzerland for the purpose of qualifying for the Privacy Shield and thus benefitting from Switzerland’s recognition of adequacy. The Principles do not affect the application of national provisions implementing the Federal Act on Data Protection (“FADP”) that apply to the processing of personal data in Switzerland. Nor do the Principles limit privacy obligations that otherwise apply under U.S. law.

The EU-U.S. and Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield Frameworks were designed by the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the European Commission and Swiss Administration, respectively, to provide companies on both sides of the Atlantic with a mechanism to comply with data protection requirements when transferring personal data from the European Union and Switzerland to the United States in support of transatlantic commerce. On July 12, 2016, the European Commission deemed the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework adequate to enable data transfers under EU law (see the adequacy determination). On January 12, 2017, the Swiss Government announced the approval of the Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework as a valid legal mechanism to comply with Swiss requirements when transferring personal data from Switzerland to the United States. See the statements from the Swiss Federal Council and Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner.

The Privacy Shield program, which is administered by the International Trade Administration (ITA) within the U.S. Department of Commerce, enables U.S.-based organizations to join one or both of the Privacy Shield Frameworks in order to benefit from the adequacy determinations. To join either Privacy Shield Framework, a U.S.-based organization will be required to self-certify to the Department of Commerce (via this website) and publicly commit to comply with the Framework’s requirements. While joining the Privacy Shield is voluntary, once an eligible organization makes the public commitment to comply with the Framework’s requirements, the commitment will become enforceable under U.S. law. All organizations interested in self-certifying to the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework or Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework should review the requirements in their entirety.

In order to rely on the Privacy Shield to effectuate transfers of personal data from Switzerland, an organization must self-certify its adherence to the Principles to the Department of Commerce (or its designee) (“the Department”). While decisions by organizations to thus enter the Privacy Shield are entirely voluntary, effective compliance is compulsory: organizations that self-certify to the Department and publicly declare their commitment to adhere to the Principles must comply fully with the Principles. In order to enter the Privacy Shield, an organization must (a) be subject to the investigatory and enforcement powers of the Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”), the Department of Transportation or another statutory body that will effectively ensure compliance with the Principles (other U.S. statutory bodies recognized by Switzerland may be included as an annex in the future); (b) publicly declare its commitment to comply with the Principles; (c) publicly disclose its privacy policies in line with these Principles; and (d) fully implement them. An organization’s failure to comply is enforceable under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act prohibiting unfair and deceptive acts in or affecting commerce (15 U.S.C. § 45(a)) or other laws or regulations prohibiting such acts.

Journalistic Exceptions

a. Given U.S. constitutional protections for freedom of the press and the Swiss exemption for journalistic material, where the rights of a free press embodied in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution intersect with privacy protection interests, the First Amendment must govern the balancing of these interests with regard to the activities of U.S. persons or organizations.

b. Personal information that is gathered for publication, broadcast, or other forms of public communication of journalistic material, whether used or not, as well as information found in previously published material disseminated from media archives, is not subject to the requirements of the Privacy Shield Principles.

Source:  Privacy Shield Frameworks web

Categories: CIVIL