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In pursuit of privacy: The third chapter of EU-US Data Privacy Framework

21 February 2024

Global organisations need to be prepared to once again update existing policies and take steps to ensure robust data compliance. 

On July 10, 2023, the European Commission reached a milestone by finalising its much-anticipated decision on the adequacy of data privacy arrangements between the EU and the United States (US). This was marked by the introduction of the new EU-US Data Privacy Framework (EU-US DPF).

However, this development prompts a critical question: Can the EU-US DPF outperform its predecessors in effectiveness and durability? The impending challenges posed by French MP Philippe Latombe and the planned return of Austrian lawyer and privacy advocate Max Schrems to the Court of Justice this year cast a shadow of uncertainty over the future of this framework.

Global organisations need to be prepared to once again to update existing policies and take steps to ensure robust data compliance. 

Pivotal legal developments in EU-US Data exchange dynamics

  • Foundational shift in 2015: In a landmark decision in October 2015, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) sided with privacy advocate Max Schrems, effectively dismantling the existing Safe Harbour Agreement, a cornerstone in EU-US data exchange.
  • Introduction of Privacy Shield in 2016: In a swift response, the EU and US jointly unveiled the EU-US Privacy Shield in 2016, designed to replace the Safe Harbour Agreement. However, the foundational principles of this new Privacy Shield closely mirrored those of its predecessor.
  • The Schrems II verdict of 2020: This pivotal ruling invalidated the Privacy Shield, citing serious concerns about pervasive surveillance by US intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

The new EU-US Data Privacy Framework: A test of resilience

The EU-US DPF aims to rectify the deficiencies identified by the CJEU in invalidating the Privacy Shield, specifically addressing the shortcomings in protection against surveillance by US intelligence and offering judicial redress for EU residents. The framework introduces enhanced safeguards and stringent requirements to curtail US surveillance access to EU residents' data. Despite these measures, privacy advocates argue it falls short of meeting EU privacy benchmarks.

In a significant development at the IAPP Europe Data Protection Congress in November 2022, Max Schrems hinted at a potential “Schrems III” legal challenge, casting a shadow of uncertainty over the new framework.

UK-US data transfers: A new chapter

Following the European Commission's decision in 2023, the UK government swiftly followed suit, announcing a ‘data bridge’ with the US. Effective from 12 October 2023, this arrangement enables UK organisations to transfer personal data to US entities compliant with the EU-US DPF.

The US Attorney General's recognition of the UK as a ‘qualifying state’ under Executive Order 14086 further strengthens this transatlantic data bridge, providing UK data subjects with a redress mechanism for grievances related to unauthorised data use and access.

Implications for US and EU businesses

US companies can now demonstrate their commitment to EU data privacy standards by self-certifying compliance with the EU-US DPF. This involves adhering to principles like responsible data deletion, safeguarding data shared with third parties and upholding data minimisation, purpose limitation, and proportionality.

Navigating the evolving landscape of EU-US data privacy

The legal terrain surrounding data privacy between the EU and the US is in a state of constant flux. As organisations navigate these complex waters of international data transfers, they must be cognisant of the potential impacts on their operations should the EU-US DPF face withdrawal. It is increasingly crucial for businesses to rely on robust and reliable data transfer mechanisms to ensure compliance and operational stability.


Given the critical importance of this matter, it is imperative for organisations involved in international data transfers to implement policies and procedures that guarantee ongoing and thorough compliance with data protection laws. This objective can be accomplished by embedding strong data governance into the very fabric of the organisation, where compliance is an integral part of the organisational culture and everyday data handling practices.

Here are essential steps that every organisation should embrace to ensure robust compliance:

  • In-depth analysis of GDPR applicability: Thoroughly dissecting the organisation's GDPR compliance needs and requirements, ensuring a robust understanding and alignment with these critical regulations.
  • Advanced tech-driven data audit: Harnessing cutting-edge technology, including automation, and data analytics, to conduct a comprehensive audit of existing data, thus streamlining legal work management and enhancing efficiency.
  • Workflow optimisation for greater efficiency: Redesigning and refining workflows to unlock cost savings and significantly boost productivity, aligning processes with best practices.
  • Comprehensive Data Privacy Impact Assessments: Diligently performing Data Privacy Impact Assessments (DPIA) to proactively address and manage potential privacy risks.
  • Data protection contractual overhaul: Updating and realigning data protection agreements, coupled with proactive engagement and negotiation with vendors, to ensure compliance and safeguard interests.
  • Data retention policy enhancement: Reevaluating and updating data retention policies and procedures to align with current standards and legal requirements, ensuring data integrity and compliance.
  • Efficient management of DSAR processes: Establishing and administering a robust Data Subject Access Request (DSAR) process to handle data access requests efficiently and in compliance with regulatory standards.
  • Extensive training and awareness programs: Implementing comprehensive training and awareness initiatives to cultivate a culture of data privacy and protection across the organisation.
    By embracing these steps, organisations can not only comply with legal requirements but also position themselves as leaders in data privacy and governance.

Learn more about how DWF’s Legal Operations team can help you prepare your legal department to be compliant with changing regulations. 

Contact our team

Further Reading