Open letter: European Commission’s decision to allow data flows to Israel alarms privacy experts

Today, 22 April, EDRi and Access Now coordinated an open letter supported by 11 civil society organisations that calls on the European Commissioner for Justice to provide further evidence and clarity on the decision to renew Israel’s status in the adequacy review.

By EDRi · April 22, 2024

Having countries in the adequacy review means allowing the unrestricted transfer of data to specific authorities between the European Union (EU) and the selected country. So, it is imperative that when renewing a country’s adequacy status like in Israel’s case, the European Commission considers the country’s data protection rules and if they align with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.

As experts on digital rights, we have established six pivotal matters that the European Commission should bring more clarification on regarding its decision to renew Israel’s in adequacy status, namely:

  • the current and future debates about the strength of the rule of law
  • the scope and substance of Israel’s privacy and data protection legal framework
  • Israel’s national security provisions and entities
  • the reality of onward transfers beyond Israel’s internationally recognised borders
  • the lack of meaningful stakeholder participation
  • In making adequacy decisions, the GDPR stipulates that the Commission should consider criteria such as ‘how a particular third country respects the rule of law, access to justice, as well as international human rights norms and standards.’ The current situation in Israel and the oPt appears to have intensified the disregard for the rule of law, particularly regarding the processing of personal data for national security purposes, as well as human rights considerations. Therefore, this context is a crucial factor in assessing adequacy.

We are requesting the European Commission to address our concerns in a transparent and accountable way to determine whether or not this decision should be reversed. 

The Commission must ensure that Adequacy decisions and their review provide a strong, sufficient, and forward-thinking legal basis for data transfers. Moreover, all Adequacy decisions should be deemed acceptable upon scrutiny by the European Union’s Court of Justice, in accordance with all the points mentioned in our letter. 

Read the open letter

We are currently examining the content and procedures of other renewed Adequacy decisions and encourage further dialogue and engagement to ensure that the rights and interests of all stakeholders and rights-holders are adequately protected in all data transfers.