The U.S. and Swiss governments have finalized a Privacy Shield agreement to allow the cross-border transfer of personal data from Switzerland to the United States.

First, let’s jump in our proverbial time machine and go back in time.  Prior to the EU – U.S. Privacy Shield framework hammered out post-implosion of the EU – U.S. Safe Harbor framework due to the European Court of Justice’s decision in Schrems in 2015 (read about that here), we had both a Safe Harbor framework for the cross-border transfer of personal data for the European Union at large to the United States, and separately for transfers from Switzerland to the United States.  Enter the EU – U.S. Privacy Shield agreement finalized last year, which addressed transfers of personal data from the European Union to the United States, but not Switzerland.  In fact, it wasn’t entirely clear what the Schrems decision meant for the Swiss – U.S. Safe Harbor agreement since the Swiss seemed to be saying that it too was no longer relevant post-Schrems but yet the U.S. Department of Commerce said they would continue to administer the program.  And now, let’s return to the present.

There is a new Swiss – U.S. Privacy Shield framework which can serve as a mechanism to lawfully transfer personal data from Switzerland to the United States. Companies can begin self-certification under this program on April 12, 2017. This new framework will replace the Swiss – U.S. Safe Harbor framework.  Here is what the Swiss are saying, “At its meeting today, the Federal Council took note that a new framework, Privacy Shield, has been established for the transfer of personal data from Switzerland to the USA. Privacy Shield replaces the Safe Harbor Agreement between Switzerland and the USA, which the FDPIC had declared inadequate and which the Federal Council has now formally terminated. The FDPIC welcomes the introduction of the new framework.”  Read more of this press release from the Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC) by clicking here. To read the press release issued by the U.S. International Trade Administration, click here.