The EU is not only a world leader in international trade but also a spearhead, by international standards, in the legal protection of privacy and personal data. International trade agreements to which the EU is or will become a party should better be consistent with all aspects of EU legislation on data protection. Yet, new quests for unrestricted flows of (personal) data are high on the agendas of international trade law in the making, notably CETA, TTIP and TiSA. These agreements could therefore have an impact on EU privacy and data protection law. The European Parliament maintains that data protection and the right to privacy are first and foremost fundamental rights, and not trade barriers. Against this background, it would seem essential to verify whether the existing safeguards are solid enough to ensure that these fundamental rights, including the rights to privacy and data protection, are protected against involuntary liberalization from international trade law.
Kristina Irion's talk is about the free flow of data, EU data protection law and international trade law. It will explain how the EU regulates cross-border transfers of personal data, and how this could violate the EU’s obligations under international trade law. In her talk, Kristina Irion will explain the free trade law’s mechanism to ensure a country’s right to regulate and introduce the standard exception on privacy that is replicated in virtually all free trade agreements. There is an entire spectrum of opinions as to whether or not some measures of EU data protection law would meet the general exceptions but one thing there is not: legal certainty. In addition, EU policy and practice could fall short of the required level of consistency, for example in how the Commission administers adequacy decisions. Arguably, the new EU-US Privacy Shield could constitute preferential treatment compared to other third countries which are also keen on receiving an adequacy status that would allow them to receive personal data from the EU.
Kristina Irion is a Senior Researcher at the Institute for Information Law (IViR) at the University of Amsterdam. She is Associate Professor (on research leave) at the School of Public Policy and faculty affiliated with CMDS. Her research covers law, regulation and public policy in the information-driven society, in particular privacy and data protection. Kristina is a recognized academic and expert in her field, she has published widely and is frequently invited to give talks at international conferences and seminars.
Kristina was key personnel of four collaborative European research projects on privacy, independent media regulatory bodies, and building functioning media institutions. As a Marie Curie Fellow she accomplished her individual research project on governing digital information. She provided expertise to the European Commission, the European Parliament, ENISA, the Council of Europe, and the OECD, among others. She was the lead author of the study on “Trade and Privacy: Complicated Bedfellows”, which she presented in the European Parliament and at the last TTIP Stakeholder event.