We in the US are deeply concerned about the way the EU’s new privacy guidelines, which came into effect last week, will force big changes in the way US and European companies do business.

Donald Trump’s administration supports the new General Data Protection Regulation’s goal of protecting personal online data while continuing to enable transatlantic data exchange. We are also committed to working with the EU to implement the new guidelines.

We believe that data-sharing rules must respect privacy and protect our shared interests of maintaining public safety and the easy functioning of the internet, while also taking into account the regulatory, scientific, and commercial needs of all our countries. As currently envisioned, GDPR’s implementation could significantly interrupt transatlantic co-operation and create unnecessary barriers to trade, not only for the US, but for everyone outside the EU.

The US thrives because it has an open, entrepreneurial society that encourages innovation and embraces technological advances. We believe consumers benefit because they enjoy the digital products and services that are invented and brought to market by US companies.

Complying with GDPR will exact a significant cost, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises and consumers who rely on digital services and may lose access and choice as a result of the guidelines. US companies have already invested billions of dollars to comply with the new rules. But even as companies update their privacy policies to bring themselves in line, many uncertainties remain.

GDPR creates serious, unclear legal obligations for both private and public sector entities, including the US government. We do not have a clear understanding of what is required to comply. That could disrupt transatlantic co-operation on financial regulation, medical research, emergency management co-ordination, and important commerce. It could threaten public welfare on both sides of the Atlantic. US and European financial services regulators may be impeded from carrying out important activities: for example, it is unclear whether EU supervisors can share information with the US for compliance exams and other oversight.

Pharmaceutical companies may not be able to submit medical data from drug trials involving European patients to US authorities, which could delay the approval of new life-saving drugs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could be restricted in sharing information with European counterparts while responding to the outbreak of diseases such as Ebola. And the US Postal Service believes the new rules will prevent EU postal operators from providing the personal data on individuals it needs to process inbound mail.

GDPR also raises concern for law enforcement and intellectual property rights by restricting access to publicly available internet domain-name registration data. We anticipate companies will either stop providing “Whois” look-up services outright, or make it hard to access the information. That could stop law enforcement from ascertaining who is behind websites that propagate terrorist information, sponsor malicious botnets or steal IP addresses.

These important activities need to be weighed carefully against privacy concerns. They are critical to building trust in the internet, safeguarding infrastructure, and protecting the public. Our respect for privacy does not have to come at the expense of public safety.

We must find a way to implement GDPR without creating undue barriers. Privacy is an important and timely issue, but it also is a complex one. The guidance on GDPR implementation is too vague. EU authorities must provide clearer rules and a more predictable regulatory environment to support investment and innovation. We ask them to act quickly so that GDPR can be properly implemented.

The writer is the US commerce secretary



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