Commerce Pick Kaplan Would Oversee EU-U.S. Data Transfers

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By Donald Aplin

King & Spalding LLP partner Gilbert B. Kaplan would oversee a vital European Union-U.S. data transfer mechanism as President Donald Trump’s undersecretary of commerce for international trade.

Trump April 11 announced he intended to nominate Kaplan for the position. If confirmed by the Senate, Kaplan would be responsible for the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield as the undersecretary overseeing all International Trade Administration activities. He would also oversee the similar Switzerland-U.S. Privacy Shield, which April 11 began accepting certification applications from U.S. companies.

The EU-U.S. Privacy Shield allows U.S. companies that self-declare their compliance with EU-approved privacy and security principles to legally transfer personal data from the EU to the U.S. Some 2,000 U.S. companies are certified under the scheme, including Alphabet Inc.'s Google and Microsoft Corp. Tens of thousands of EU companies also rely on the program to legally transfer data to certified U.S. companies. The Swiss program reaches only transfers from Switzerland to U.S. companies.

Some EU lawmakers and privacy advocates are concerned about the Trump administration’s commitment to the program and whether there are plans to allow broader U.S. government surveillance of data. Officials on both sides of the Atlantic have said they understand the economic importance of maintaining the trans-Atlantic flow of data.

Kaplan is a partner in King & Spalding’s International Trade Group in Washington. He has served at Commerce as deputy assistant secretary and first acting assistant secretary for Import Administration. Those positions were in a division of Commerce not directly related to the Safe Harbor data transfer programs the Privacy Shield programs replaced.

Kaplan didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg BNA’s telephone and email requests for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Donald Aplin in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Barbara Yuill at

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