Study launch: The EU can achieve data protection-proof trade agreements

By EDRi · July 13, 2016

Today, on 13 July 2016, the University of Amsterdam’s Institute for Information Law (IViR) released a study on data protection and trade that BEUC, EDRi, CDD and TACD had commissioned. The purpose of the study was to have an independent assessment on the respect of privacy and data protection by trade agreements being negotiated by the European Union. Within this content, the study found flaws in the current approach and showed how trade agreements could be data protection- and privacy-proof.


“It’s unacceptable that the EU’s privacy and data protection rules could be challenged through trade policy. Trade deals should not undermine consumers’ fundamental rights and their very trust in the online economy. We’re pleased to see this study clearly echoing the European Parliament’s call to keep rules on privacy and data protection out of trade agreements,” Monique Goyens, Director General of The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), commented.

The EU has the responsibility to safeguard people’s rights to privacy and data protection in trade agreements. The European Union has done a great job at setting high standards for these fundamental rights. This study shows how to ensure these high standards can be maintained when trade agreements are negotiated,

said Joe McNamee, Executive Director of European Digital Rights (EDRi).

“The United States is aggressively pushing for a trade deal with the EU that would permit the unprecedented expansion of commercial data collection, threatening both consumers and citizens. America’s data giants, such as Google and Facebook, want the TTIP to serve as a digital `Trojan Horse’ that effectively sidesteps the EU’s human-rights-based data protection safeguards. This new study is a wake-up call for policy makers and the public: any trade deal must first protect our privacy and ensure consumer protection,” added Jeffrey Chester, Executive Director of Center for Digital Democracy (CDD).

“The EU’s opaque and inconsistent system of granting third countries so-called ‘adequacy’ status for transferring personal data of its citizens makes it vulnerable to legal challenge by trade partners. This is an important finding of this study, and particularly relevant in the week when the EU-US much-criticised Privacy Shield, is likely to be approved. The EU must not make some partners more equal than others when deciding on the adequacy of their data protection laws,” said Anna Fielder, Senior Policy Advisor of the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD).

Read more:

Study “Trade and privacy – Difficult bedfellows? How to achieve data protection-proof free trade agreements”

Factsheet detailing the study’s main recommendations