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Thursday, January 22, 2009

US-Swiss Safe Harbor Framework Signed

by Mehmet Munur

On December 9, 2008, the Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner and the Department of Commerce signed “an exchange of letters” to create the “US-Swiss Safe Harbor Framework.” As a result, multinational corporations certified under the Department of Commerce Safe Harbor program are now able to transfer data from Switzerland to the US more conveniently.

The Swiss Federal Data Protection Act operates similar to the 95/46/EC Data Protection Directive. Article 6 of the Swiss Act prohibits data exports in the absence of adequate guarantees, similar to Article 25 of the Directive. Since the US, without the Safe Harbor, does not offer adequate protections for personal data, companies were forced to use exceptions under Article 6 for data transfers, such as standard contractual clauses approved by the Data Protection Commissioner of Switzerland. Companies can now self-certify for transfers of personal data from Switzerland at the Department of Commerce website in addition to other European Economic Area countries.

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