US to appoint permanent Privacy Shield Ombudsperson, as EU pressure tells

US President Donald Trump is understood to have picked tech businessman Keith Krach to oversee the Privacy Shield. [Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock]

The Trump Administration plans to nominate a permanent Ombudsperson for the EU’s data protection agreement with the US, the White House said last week (18 January). The announcement comes after months of pressure on the issue from the EU.

President Trump is understood to have chosen tech businessman Keith Krach as his nominee.

“I am very pleased that the US has decided to follow our recommendation from December report and nominate the permanent Ombudsperson,” Commissioner Věra Jourová told EURACTIV in emailed comments.

However, Jourová was well aware that the process of appointing a permanent Ombudsperson could take some time.

“I would like to call on the Senate to proceed with the hearings swiftly so Mr Krach can assume his duties as soon as possible,” she said, adding that the post is vital for the Privacy Shield to be fully operational.

US taking privacy shield deal seriously, EU officials say

The US is making a number of steps in the right direction in order to fall in line with the EU-US privacy shield agreement, EU officials said on Thursday (18 October). The comments came as the Commission entered the first round of talks for the second annual review of the pact. 

The agreement ensures the protection of EU citizens’ personal data within the US, while also allowing the safe transmission of data across the Atlantic. So far, over 4,000 US companies have agreed to participate in the pact.

The European Commission has previously called for a permanent Ombudsperson to oversee complaints as part of the transatlantic deal. The EU executive had begun to lose patience with an alleged lack of compliance from the US side.

The privacy shield is not without controversy, some MEPs think that it will be ineffective due to lack of compliance by US companies and little action by the US.

“European citizens and businesses need a solution that is legally watertight. Europe has a market of over 500 million people, and cannot let itself be trifled with by the US authorities,” Dutch Liberal MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld told EURACTIV in October.

The US has had an interim ombudsman, Manisha Singh, in place since September even after continued EU pressure to make a permanent appointment.

Edited by Samuel Stolton, Sam Morgan and Zoran Radosavljevic

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