EU Commission, United States Agree On Framework For Transatlantic Data Flows

The European Commission (EC) and the USA on February 2, 2016 agreed on a new framework for transadantic data flows, named EU-US Privacy Shield. The pact should prevent European Union regulators from restricting data transfers by companies such as Google and Amazon across the Atlantic. The agreement will replace the 16-year old Safe Harbour arrangement that was ruled illegal by the European Court of Justice in October 2015. The court scrapped the agreement in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations on the US intelligence. Compared to the Safe Harbour, the Privacy Shield arrangement seeks to provide stronger obligations on companies in the US to protect the personal data of Europeans and stronger monitoring and enforcement by the US agencies. The announcement of the pact, which still requires political approval, coincides with two days of talks in Brussels, where European data protection authorities were poised to restrict data transfers unless a deal was clinched. The European Commission said that the new Privacy Shield would place stronger obligations on the US companies to protect Europeans’ personal data and ensure stronger monitoring and enforcement by the US agencies.

The Commission Vice-President, Mr. Andrus Ansip, said that for the first time they had received detailed written assurances from the United States on the safeguards and limitations applicable to the US surveillance programme. The United States will create an ombudsman within the State Department to deal with complaints and enquiries forwarded by EU data protection agencies. There will also be an alternative dispute resolution mechanism to resolve grievances and a joint annual review of the accord. European data protection authorities will also work with the US Federal Trade Commission to police the system. Safe Harbour had for 15 years allowed more than 4,000 companies to avoid cumbersome EU data transfer rules by stating that they complied with EU data protection law. Cross-border data transfers are used in many industries for sharing employee information, when consumer data is shared to complete credit card, travel or e-commerce transactions, or to target advertising based on customer preferences.

International Sanctions
Against Iran Lifted

The United States and European nations lifted oil and financial sanctions on Iran on January 16, 2016 and released roughly $100 billion of its assets after international inspectors concluded that the country had followed through on promises to dismantle large sections of its nuclear programme. In a dramatic move scheduled to coincide with the scrapping of the sanctions, Tehran also announced the release of Americans, including Washington Post reporter Mr. Jason Rezaian as part of a prisoner swap with the United States. Together, the lifting of sanctions and the prisoner deal considerably reduce the hostility between Tehran and Washington that has shaped the Middle East since Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979. Tens of

 

 

billions of dollars worth of Iranian assets will now be unfrozen and global companies that have been barred from doing business there will be able to exploit a market hungry for everything from automobiles to airplane parts. The UN nuclear watchdog ruled that Iran had abided by an agreement in 2015 with six world powers to curtail its nuclear programme, triggering the end of sanctions. The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement that Iran had carried out all measures required under the July deal to enable Implementation Day of the deal to occur. Within minutes, the United States formally lifted banking, steel, shipping and other sanctions on Iran, a major oil producer which had been virtually shut out of international markets for the past five years. The European Union also began the process of lifting sanctions. The Obama administration also removed 400 Iranians and others from its sanctions list and took other steps to lift selected restrictions on interactions with Iran.

Under the new rules put in place, the United States will no longer sanctio: foreign individuals or firms for buyiru oil and gas from Iran. The Americar trade embargo remains in place, but-the government will permit certain limitec business activities with Iran, such a? selling or purchasing Iranian food anc carpets and American commercia aircraft and parts.

Japan also, on January 21, 2016, liftec sanctions on Iran, falling in line with, majot world powers. Chief Cabinet Secretary Mr. Yoshihide Suga said that Japan would like to strengthen their cooperative relationship with Iran further and contribute to the peace and stability of the Middle East through their traditional friendly relationship with Iran. With the lifting of the sanctions. Japanese insurance companies will be able to issue policies covering trade deals involving Iran. Japanese business will also be able make new investments in Iran’s oil and gas sector. An investment agreement between Tehran and Tokyo is expected to be signed soon. Japanese companies are already lining up to resume business ties with Iran, with Suzuki Motor Corp saying it is considering returning to the Iranian market. After sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear programme are lifted, a number of global industries should benefit from the opening up of second largest country in the Middle East. The most significant beneficiaries are likely to be the financial, energy and transportation industries. The financial industry will largely benefit from the lifting of sanctions that have, over the last three years, prohibited international banks from using SWIFT—the global payments system—to conduct business with Iran’s banks. As Iran is home to the fourth-largest proven crude oil reserves and second largest natural gas reserves, lifted sanctions represent a huge opportunity for global energy companies. Transportation is the other major industry that will benefit from lifting sanctions. Car manufacturers will also benefit from the large Iranian market. Moreover, the end of sanctions means more money and prestige for Iran, as it becomes deeply embroiled in the sectarian conflicts of the Middle East, notably in the Syrian civil war.

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