Swiss data chief downgrades security of data transfers to the US

The Swiss-US Privacy Shield was designed to simplify data transfer between the two countries. Keystone/nick Soland

The Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner has concluded that the United States does not meet Swiss legal standards of data protection. 

This content was published on September 8, 2020

On Tuesday, the office shared a position paper on the annual assessment of the Swiss-US Privacy Shield: a mutual agreement that includes stricter data protection for participating companies. This ensures that certified American companies respect Swiss data protection legislation and vice versa. It also addresses the processing of data of non-US citizens for anti-terrorism and national security purposes.  

In his latest assessment of the Shield, the data protection commissioner concluded that “although it guarantees special protection rights for persons in Switzerland, it does not provide an adequate level of protection for data transfer from Switzerland to the US pursuant to the Federal Act on Data Protection”. 

Unlike the European Union - and countries like Canada, New Zealand, Uruguay and Argentina - the US was never on the Swiss list of countries whose legislation could be considered to provide adequate data protection. However, to help simplify data transfer between the two countries the US was placed on a list of those with “Adequate protection under certain circumstances”.  On Tuesday, the Swiss authorities announced that they were removing the US from this list. 

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