Business Technology

Sunday 11 December 2016

Safe Harbour 2 will fail - and it might be good for Ireland, says expert

Published 06/03/2016 | 02:30

John Whelan of A&L Goodbody
John Whelan of A&L Goodbody

Safe Harbour 2.0, the new agreement being formed to replace the EU-US data transfer pact that was torn apart by an Irish lawsuit, is unlikely to survive for long.

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That's according to one of the country's top data-privacy experts, who thinks Ireland could gain if the future of EU-US data sharing remains uncertain.

John Whelan, a partner at law firm A&L Goodbody, said it looked like Safe Harbour 2.0 or 'Privacy Shield' would be challenged by privacy activists and would not pass the Court of Justice of the European Union. "That will mean further uncertainty," said Mr Whelan.

Its predecessor - the original Safe Harbour agreement - fell apart following a challenge by Austrian Max Schrems against the Irish Data Protection Commissioner in the High Court in Dublin.

Its collapse had far-reaching implications for the technology companies who share data between the EU and US.

"If Privacy Shield doesn't work out and ultimately data has to be segregated, Ireland is viewed as a good and safe place to store data by multinationals," Whelan said.

Speaking to influential technology website Ars Technica last week, Schrems also said he believed Safe Harbour 2.0 would fail.

John Whelan is one of the speakers at this week's Women's Executive Network (WXN) Speaker Series panel discussion on Big Data, taking place in the Westin Hotel in Dublin on March 10.

The recent stand-off between Apple and US authorities on customer data is a consequence of years of criticism directed at US companies on their track records when it comes to data, he added.

"They have felt the sting of what came out with Edward Snowden and the reputational damage it did and want to stand their ground now and show that privacy comes first."

He added: "I think Apple is right - there is no legal basis in the United States for what they are being asked to do."

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