European Union Approves Data-Privacy Pact

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From: Sally Khudairi (
Date: Wed May 31 2000 - 05:03:09 PDT

Internet World: European Union Approves Data-Privacy Pact

By Kathleen Murphy

In a boost to transatlantic e-commerce, member states of the
European Union Wednesday approved an agreement on data

The accord means that U.S. e-commerce companies gathering
information from European users must join a "safe
harbor" program in which businesses would agree not to
use or gather personal information without the users'
consent. The agreement is likely to take effect by July after
a review by the European Parliament.

U.S. self-regulatory groups such as BBBOnLine
( ) will help enforce the
agreement. The Federal Trade Commission ( )
also can take action against companies that fail to live by
their privacy promises.

The United States and the EU have been trying to come to an
agreement since October 1998 about how American companies
would comply with an EU directive that called for banning the
flow of personal data to countries without
"adequate" privacy protections.

"This is a landmark accord for e-commerce because it
bridges the differences between EU and U.S. approaches to
privacy protection," said Commerce Secretary William
Daley said in a statement. "Once the accord is
implemented, it will enhance consumer confidence by
protecting European citizens' privacy, reduce business costs,
and keep data flowing across the Atlantic."

Daley said Wednesday's approval by the EU member states
begins the process that guarantees implementation of the
accord. Without the safe harbor arrangement, disputes could
disrupt U.S.-EU trade, which in 1999 was about $350 billion,
according to the Commerce Department.

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Sally Khudairi, ZOT Group
+1.617.542.5335 ext./201

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