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International: Data protection excluded from TTIP negotiations

A European Commission spokesperson stated - on 4 November 2013 - no EU member state has requested to include data protection discussions in the agenda for next week's Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations. They stated talks of Germany pushing for data protection negotiations were 'pure speculation'.

Trade groups such as the Transatlantic Business Council and the Coalition for Privacy and Free Trade have lobbied for simpler data flows between the US and EU. The Transatlantic Business Council commented on 10 May 2013 that 'seamless flows of data are the oxygen of our modern economies' and that the TTIP should be used to 'promote maximum interoperability' between the US and EU.

Bridging the gap between the US and EU on this is increasingly more like bridging a chasm.

Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, said on 29 October 2013 that 'data protection is not red tape or a tariff. It is a fundamental right and as such is not negotiable.' She later clarified that 'the EU is not ready to lower its own standards […] That is why the free trade agreement negotiations are not going to include privacy standards.'

Paula Barrett, Partner at Eversheds, told DataGuidance, "Bridging the gap between the US and EU on this is increasingly more like bridging a chasm for which a 'mutual recognition' accord and the existing Safe Harbor framework is not robust enough. Even when looked at through the lense of the current EU legislation, there are still too many instances of the 'sham' filings for that harbour to be truly safe."

Anna Fielder of Privacy International also commented, saying that "Privacy and consumer advocates absolutely do not want data protection and data flows to be included in the TTIP negotiations; simply put, a trade agreement is not the best place to deal with such issues."

The TTIP talks have faced delays over the US government shutdown and EU concerns over NSA surveillance. They are now due to be held during the week beginning 11 November 2013.

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