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