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Essentially Equivalent: A Comparison of the Legal Orders for Privacy and Data Protection in the European Union and United States

Essentially Equivalent

In a milestone decision on transatlantic data protection, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued its judgment in the Schrems case, declaring the Commission decision on the EU-U.S. Safe Harbor agreement invalid. The CJEU declared that such a decision requires a finding that the level of protection of fundamental rights and freedoms in the laws and practices of the third country is “essentially equivalent” to that guaranteed within the EU. Given the CJEU’s decision, the Commission and data protection authorities are now called upon to examine the legal order in the U.S. and compare its level of protection to that within the EU.

This report provides a roadmap and resource for this comparison. Following the analysis laid out by the CJEU in Schrems, it shows how privacy values deeply embedded in U.S. law and practice have resulted in a system of protection of fundamental rights and freedoms that meets the test of essential equivalency. 

Click here to view the executive summary.

Click here to view the full report.


If you have any questions regarding this report, please contact the Sidley lawyer with whom you usually work, or 

Jacques Bourgeois
Senior Advisor
+32 2 504 6490 

Cameron F. Kerry
Senior Counsel
+1 617 223 0305 

William RM Long
+44 20 7360 2061 


Maarten Meulenbelt
+32 2 504 6467 

Alan Charles Raul
+1 202 736 8477