ad info
   personal technology

 custom news
 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 CNN programs
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

CNN Websites
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines

 message boards




Transatlantic privacy talks may drag into 2000

September 28, 1999
Web posted at: 12:27 p.m. EDT (1627 GMT)

by James Niccolai


(IDG) -- Data privacy talks between the U.S. and the European Union are inching forward, although a senior U.S. official would offer no assurances that an accord will be reached before the end of the year.

The EU and the U.S. are in "basic agreement" on the principals that should underlie a transatlantic privacy policy, David Aaron, Commerce Undersecretary for International Trade, told reporters in a telephone briefing. What the two sides haven't agreed upon is how those principals should be enforced, Aaron said.

  Make your PC work harder with these tips
  Year 2000 World
  Study finds many don't trust privacy when accessing Web
 Reviews & in-depth info at's personal news page's products pages
  U.S. lawmakers hear range of Net privacy opinion
  EU, U.S. plug away at data privacy accord
  Questions about computers? Let's editors help you
  Subscribe to's free daily newsletters
  Search in 12 languages
 News Radio
 * Fusion audio primers
 * Computerworld Minute

EU officials have put "a good deal more emphasis on self-regulation, which of course is something we've been pushing all along," Aaron said. But the EU has yet to spell out in detail how it wants disputes and complaints to be handled, and the U.S. is still seeking assurances that American businesses won't be held accountable to E.U. data privacy authorities, he said.

"We don't want to end up with a situation where we both have a very stringent self-regulatory regime, [but then] we have to answer to their data privacy regime as well," Aaron said. "The devil is in the details, and it's up to them to provide those details."

The U.S. favors a system where disputes and complaints are arbitrated by a third-party group such as the Better Business Bureau Online, a U.S.-based consumer watchdog group.

The press conference was called to provide an update on discussions in Paris between Aaron and John Mogg, director general of the European Commission's internal market division.

At issue is an EU directive on data privacy passed late last year, which assured a high level of privacy for data flowing among the 15 EU states.

The directive gives individuals the right to review, correct and limit the use of their personal data. But it also requires states to prevent data being sent to other countries, such as the U.S., if that country's domestic data privacy policy does not provide similarly stringent protections.

The two sides have already missed one avowed deadline for reaching an accord, set for June 21. Aaron said it's not clear if the talks will conclude by December, when the next biannual European Union-U.S. Summit is scheduled.

Aaron said he called a press conference because reporters have been asking him for an update on the talks. "It's not as though we have something to announce, because we don't," he warned at the outset.

James Niccolai is senior U.S. correspondent for the IDG News Service in San Francisco.

Internet privacy issues focus of Paris summit
September 16, 1999
Total digital privacy may be on the horizon
August 18, 1999
Hackers, IT consultants embrace free security tool
August 13, 1999
Wireless data encryption due for handhelds
August 3, 1999
Congress targets exported encryption tech
July 26, 1999
Is your business as safe as you think?
July 16, 1999

Study finds many don't trust privacy when accessing Web
(InfoWorld Electric)
Transatlantic data privacy talks plod along
(Network World Fusion)
IBM offers online-privacy consulting
(InfoWorld Electric)
EU and U.S. keep data flowing
(InfoWorld Electric)
EU and U.S. plug away at data privacy accord
(Network World Fusion)
U.S., Europe at impasse over privacy
(Network World Fusion)
U.S. lawmakers hear range of Net privacy opinion
(Network World Fusion)
FTC says Net privacy legislation not needed, yet
(Network World Fusion)
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

Europa, the European Union's Web site
International Trade Administration, United States Department of Commerce
The European directive on data privacy
Better Business Bureau Online
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
Enter keyword(s)   go    help

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.