Data security and personal privacy are a big deal these days. Hacks and exploits coming out of every corner, massive data breaches and even the security of schoolchildren's personal data being called into question is raising a lot of eyebrows. Just about every aspect of our digital lives, from our smart TVs to the Internet of Things carries with it the risk of our personal data falling into the wrong hands. Things like bank account data, personal addresses and even social security numbers are stored and transmitted daily. Among companies that send data internationally, such as Google and Apple, a great many of them deal with the European Union. These sets of data, naturally, are rather susceptible to attacks and interception on their way through tons of waypoints to their destination.
Up until recently, these data transmissions fell under a blanket law known as "Safe Harbor" that governed data transfer to make the process as easy as possible for everybody involved. This law was recently struck down, however, in light of security issues stemming from revelations made by an ex-contractor for the National Security Agency, Edward Snowden. The law allowed free transfer of data between the United States and Europe, whose data protection laws are stricter than those in the U.S. With nothing in its place, businesses relying on the Safe Harbor law are left scrambling to figure out how to govern international data transfer. In light of that, a new deal has been proposed. Known as the "Judicial Redress Act", it would, in essence, allow Europeans to sue for data security concerns over in the United States.
This new proposal has hit a few snags and wound up delayed. European Union officials have given Washington and Brussels an ultimatum; they have until the end of January to get the new framework ironed out. As this saga continues, tech industry bigwigs are getting more and more anxious that the new framework won't be completed in time to protect them from applicable laws that the Safe Harbor law used to protect them from. As such, a meeting of European Union privacy regulators is scheduled for February 2 if no new framework is in place. At this meeting, it will be decided if punitive actions should be pursued in regards to companies violating privacy laws.