New U.S. Corporation Free Trade Coalition Focusing on EU-U.S., Global Privacy Barriers

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By Donald G. Aplin  

 

A new coalition of legal experts and former U.S. officials now affiliated with Hogan Lovells LLP will address free trade barriers set in place by differing data protection and privacy regimes around the world, the law firm announced in a March 18 post in its Chronicle of Data Protection blog.

The Coalition for Privacy and Free Trade seeks to be involved in addressing privacy and data security issues related to efforts by the Obama administration to negotiate a free trade pact with the European Union, the firm said.

“The goal is to see if there can be agreement on interoperability and mutual respect,” Christopher Wolf, partner and director of the Hogan Lovells privacy practice, in Washington, told BNA March 18.

The trade negotiation “seems to be an opportunity to find common ground,” Wolf, who is also co-chair of the Future of Privacy Forum think tank in Washington, said.

The Hogan Lovells coalition said it aims to solicit information from interested companies about privacy and data security issues and free trade with the goal of submitting comments to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative as it begins negotiating with the European Union.

Wolf said the coalition will soon make public the names of its initial corporate members and plans to hold a meeting of coalition members in April.

U.S.-EU Privacy Challenges

“Businesses and individuals must be able to trust that privacy will be protected in order for the cross-border digital economy to succeed,” Wolf said, echoing comments he made in March 7 testimony before the International Trade Commission.

Efforts underway in the European Union to replace its 17-year-old EU Data Protection Directive (95/46/EC) with a regulation (11 PVLR 178, 1/30/12) have raised privacy tensions between the 27 member state bloc and U.S. multinationals that do business there.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has said that if adopted the proposed regulation could lead to abusive litigation and have other anti-business consequences (12 PVLR 202, 2/4/13). But privacy advocacy groups and others have objected to what they see as unacceptable lobbying by U.S. companies in an effort to weaken the European Commission's proposed privacy regulation (12 PVLR 246, 2/11/13).

There have been longstanding differences of opinion between U.S. and EU interests on whether the USA PATRIOT Act endangers the privacy of personal data in the United States (11 PVLR 1768, 12/10/12).

Nearly a year after U.S. and EU officials committed to finalizing a comprehensive agreement aimed at protecting the privacy of personal information exchanged for law enforcement and anti-terrorism purposes, no pact has been finalized (11 PVLR 1010, 6/25/12).

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union William E. Kennard has launched a campaign to try to address what he says are misconceptions about the strength of U.S. privacy laws (11 PVLR 1768, 12/10/12). He has also called for stronger coordination of U.S. and EU cybersecurity efforts (12 PVLR 441, 3/11/13).

The White House also recently announced new efforts to combat the theft of trade secrets from U.S. corporations (12 PVLR 315, 2/25/13).

Former U.S. Officials Involved

Harriet Pearson, privacy practice partner, and Warren Maruyama and Jonathan Stoel, international trade practice partners, all in the Hogan Lovells' Washington office, will along with Wolf spearhead the coalition's efforts.

Hugo Paemen, former European Union Ambassador to the United States, in Washington and Brussels, and former U.S. Trade Representative Clayton Yeutter, in Washington, will serve as senior advisers to Hogan Lovells on the new coalition, the firm said.

In addition, former White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Internet Policy Daniel J. Weitzner, who now directs the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory Decentralized Information Group, in Cambridge, Mass., will serve as senior academic adviser to the group, the firm said.

The coalition will also address Japan's call for a possible free trade pact with the United States, the firm said.

By Donald G. Aplin  


The Hogan Lovells blog post on the Coalition for Privacy and Free Trade is available at http://www.hldataprotection.com/2013/03/articles/international-eu-privacy/hogan-lovells-launches-coalition-for-privacy-and-free-trade-former-eu-ambassador-to-us-former-us-trade-representative-and-former-white-house-privacy-lead-involved/.

Wolf's prepared testimony before the International Trade Commission is available at http://www.hldataprotection.com/files/2013/03/USITC-Testimony-of-Christopher-Wolf2.pdf.