Trump Executive Order Strips Non-Citizens Of Privacy Rights
Jan 28, 2017 07:34 AM EST
Among the many executive orders that US President Donald Trump signed in the last week was an order to ensure that non-citizens wouldn't get the same privacy rights as US citizens. This could potentially invalidate a transcontinental data flow agreement between the US and EU which took years to negotiate.
The US-EU Data Shield Agreement enables companies to transfer the personal data of Europeans to the US while ensuring that these companies comply with Europe's more stringent privacy laws. This means that any personal data originating from the EU, not only those of its citizens, would be protected to the standards that EU demands regardless of where the server is located, Engadget reports. Furthermore, the framework requires the US Department of Commerce to ensure that American companies are operating in compliance. Section 14 of the executive order that Trump signed, reads:
Privacy Act. Agencies shall, to the extent consistent with applicable law, ensure that their privacy policies exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information.
The enforcement of privacy policies that excludes persons who are not United States citizens or lawful residents while aiming for enhanced domestic immigration laws clearly invalidates America's chunk of the Data Shield agreement. There is no way of telling how damaging the policy change might be and it will depend on how important the US Privacy Act was to non-citizens during the EU Privacy Shield negotiations, according to TechCrunch. A spokeswoman for the European Commission was quick to comment, following Trump's executive order, that the Privacy Shield does not rely on the protections under the US Privacy Act and that they will continue to monitor the implementation of other agreements that might have an effect on European's data protection rights.
Accordingly, the executive order signed by Trump opens the current administration for sanctions by the EU and could lead allies to completely suspend the agreement. In effect, this will render difficulties to US companies trying to do digital business in the EU, which will eventually force them to operate in a legal gray zone. Currently, more than 1,500 companies including Apple, Google and Microsoft agreed to accept the conditions set forth in the agreement but all is about to change as Trump's executive order is intent on going in a very different direction.