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U.S. Talking to EU About Fate of Safe Harbor

January 26, 2012

The Obama administration is in talks with the European Commission about possible revisions to a 2000 agreement ensuring U.S. companies are in compliance with the European Union's privacy directive given proposed changes to those rules.

Commerce Department Senior Internet Policy Adviser Ari Schwartz told Tech Daily Dose Thursday that U.S. and EU officials are in discussions about whether the safe harbor agreement also will need to be revised.

The commission on Wednesday proposed several changes to the directive that would streamline compliance but also toughen some of the standards. It also makes it clear that the EU rules do apply to U.S. companies that do business in Europe -- even U.S.-based websites used by Europeans.

Schwartz and Federal Trade Commission member Julie Brill declined to comment on the proposed changes to the EU directive.

But both the Commerce Department and the Federal Trade Commission voiced some concerns with an earlier draft of the commission's proposed changes.

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