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NRF, EuroCommerce to reinforce cooperation on data flow

Oct '20
Pic: Shutterstock
Pic: Shutterstock
How to legally transfer customer and employee data across the Atlantic now that the EU-US Privacy Shield has been invalidated by the European Union’s (EU) highest court was a key issue of discussion as EuroCommerce, the principal European organisation representing the retail and wholesale sector, and the US National Retail Federation (NRF) held their latest retailer exchange meeting last week.

At the virtual meeting, NRF and EuroCommerce members agreed to continue and strengthen their cooperation in the coming year through joint work and dialogue focusing on a number of key issues with major implications for transatlantic data flows and for the retail sector.

The issues include European Commission work on the modernisation of standard contractual clauses; EU policymakers’ and the US commerce department’s consideration of a successor to the Privacy Shield; the work of the European Data Protection Board on guidance for additional safeguards for EU data outside its borders; and clarification of privacy issues and the use of cookies separately.

Members also agreed to work together to address solutions to current issues in connection with payments.

The two organizations have worked together on data issues for the last five years and in 2018 jointly issued a Retail Approach to Implementing Critical Elements of the GDPR.

“Protecting cross-border flows of data is incredibly important to global retail operations, and the invalidation of the Privacy Shield creates operational and legal challenges for retailers to seamlessly serve their European customers and maintain their workforces in EU member states. We are prepared to work with EuroCommerce to provide constructive input on these issues toward a pragmatic and workable solution that ensures the continued free flow of transatlantic data,” NRF president and chief executive officer Matthew Shay said in a statement.

“Data is the lifeblood of retail, both in its relations with its supply chains, ensuring that the goods which people need find their way onto shelves at the right time and the right quantities, but also in respect of its customers, to ensure that it serves their needs and gains insights into constantly changing consumer expectations,” EuroCommerce director general Christian Verschueren said.

The Privacy Shield was agreed to by the European Commission and the US department of commerce in 2016 to replace the 15-year old Safe Harbor Agreement for transatlantic data flows that had been invalidated in 2015 in the Schrems decision by the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court.

In its Schrems II decision this summer, the same court struck down the Privacy Shield after just four years, leaving the transfer of data under the program in legal limbo.

The ruling assured the validity of existing European Commission-approved standard contractual clauses (SCCs) that serve as an alternative transfer mechanism for businesses, but set additional conditions on their use that calls into question the continued reliance on SCCs by global retailers, according to an NRF press release.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DS)

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