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Members Call for Swift Resolution to Safe Harbor Negotiations

Nov 3, 2015
#SubCMT & #SubCommTech Review Impact of Transatlantic Data Flows and Receive Update on U.S.-E.U. Safe Harbor Negotiations

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade and the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology today held a joint hearing to review the status of United States and European Union safe harbor negotiations. The safe harbor agreement that allowed for data to be transferred between the U.S. and E.U. was recently nullified by the European Court of Justice. With over 4,000 American businesses, including those in technology, manufacturing, healthcare, energy, and retail, relying on the agreement, members reviewed the uncertainty generated by the court’s decision and discussed the administration’s work to finalize a new framework with their European counterparts.

“There is no trade partnership more important than the trade partnership with the EU. The depth and breadth of the U.S. and E.U. relationship is not simply economic – this is a strategically important relationship of respect and cooperation,” said Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX). “For the sake of the small and medium sized business relying on the Safe Harbor, and all of the jobs they support in both the U.S. and the EU, I encourage all parties to stay at the negotiating table to solidify a new data transfer agreement well in advance of the January 2016 deadline. There is no other path forward that I can support.”

“The borderless nature of the Internet is an important force driving economic success and innovation. For Internet-based companies, the value of the free flow of digital data between the E.U. and the U.S. is obvious,” added Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR). “Without the shelter of a Safe Harbor, these businesses have the choice of operating at increased risk, paying expensive costs to lower that risk, or simply stopping the flow of information altogether – that is, stopping business altogether.”

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) concluded, “We must move swiftly forward toward a framework for a sustainable Safe Harbor. While I recognize that there are some who want to leverage this important relationship and focus on areas of disagreement, I would urge folks to keep in mind the countless small and medium enterprises that rely on the Safe Harbor framework. I support the work and direction of the Department of Commerce in negotiating this new framework and I encourage its speedy adoption.”

To view an archived webcast of the hearing, click here.

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