Transatlantic privacy talks may drag into 2000
(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.
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 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.
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