The Privacy Shield Frameworks are a mechanism for legally transferring personal data from the European Union (EU) and Switzerland to the United States. They are based on agreements first entered into between the U.S. Department of Commerce and the European Commission in 2016, replacing the earlier Safe Harbor program. The Privacy Shield promotes greater transparency around international data processing and enables U.S. companies to demonstrate that their privacy practices meet EU and Swiss data protection requirements.

U.S. businesses participating in Privacy Shield are required to select an independent dispute resolution service (known as an Independent Recourse Mechanism or IRM). This ensures that EU and/or Swiss individuals whose personal data the business transfers to the United States have someone to turn to if the business fails to uphold its Privacy Shield promises.

Many businesses in the United States self-certify under Privacy Shield as part of their efforts to comply with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). GDPR requires that personal data can only be transferred from the EU to other countries if it receives “adequate” protections, similar to those provided by EU law. For U.S. businesses that collect the personal data of individuals in the EU, Privacy Shield is a mechanism for complying with the data transfer requirements of the GDPR. 

U.S. businesses may receive and process personal data from the EU and Switzerland after self-certifying their adherence to the Privacy Shield Principles. Businesses that self-certify to Privacy Shield agree to abide by enhanced consumer privacy standards for EU and Swiss individuals. Your public self-certification to Privacy Shield with the U.S. Department of Commerce ensures that EU organizations and consumers know your business provides adequate privacy protection. 

The Better Business Bureau provides dispute resolution services and compliance assistance for participating businesses during the process of self-certifying under Privacy Shield. It also offers ongoing assistance as annual re-certifications come due. Learn more at the BBB’s site.

This article was originally written and posted by the Better Business Bureau. It is reposted here by permission of the Better Business Bureau. No recommendation or endorsement of any BBB service is expressed or implied by the Center for Ethics in Practice, the University of St. Thomas, BERC, or any of its sponsors, partners, or content providers.