New agreement to ensure safe flow of data between EU and Japan

New agreement to ensure safe flow of data between EU and Japan
European Commissioner for Justice Věra Jourová © Ratislav Polak

The EU and Japan have signed a new agreement to recognise the equivalency of each other’s data protection systems, which will facilitate the safe flow of data between the two powers.

Facilitating the safe flow of data throughout the EU is a priority for the European Commission, and by expanding this to third countries such as Japan, all of the involved parties can benefit from shared best practices in data sharing and improve the security of the data being transferred.

The new agreement, concluded today following discussions that have been underway since January 2017, will create the world’s largest area for the safe flow of data, based on the EU’s high standards and requirements for the security of personal data.

What are the conditions of the agreement?

While the agreement recognises a fundamental equivalence between the levels of data protection offered by the EU and Japan, it also mandates that Japan implement a number of additional safeguards in order to fully meet the EU’s required standards.

This includes the establishment of a mechanism to handle complaints by EU citizens about the accesses Japanese public authorities have to their data, and will also involve safeguards to bridge gaps between the two data protection systems and strengthen areas such as:

  • The protection of sensitive data;
  • The conditions under which data can be transferred from Japan to another country; and
  • The rights of individuals to access their data.

Once these additional safeguards are in place, the commission will launch its formal procedure to officially adopt the decision. It will apply to all personal data exchanged for commercial and law enforcement purposes.

How has the commission responded to the agreement?

Commissioner for Justice Věra Jourová welcomed the news of the agreement and the economic impact it could deliver, particularly because of the value of data in global marketplaces. She said: “Data is the fuel of global economy and this agreement will allow for data to travel safely between us to the benefit of both our citizens and our economies. At the same time we reaffirm our commitment to shared values concerning the protection of personal data. This is why I am fully confident that by working together, we can shape the global standards for data protection and show common leadership in this important area.”

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