Amazon Web Services (AWS) welcomes the new Trans-Atlantic Data Privacy Framework (Data Privacy Framework) that was agreed to, in principle, between the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) last month. This announcement demonstrates the common will between the US and EU to strengthen privacy protections in trans-Atlantic data flows, and will supplement the safeguards AWS and other companies already offer today. AWS commits to undertaking certification in accordance with the Data Privacy Framework as it is adopted, and we look forward to our customers and their end users benefiting from the new safeguards.
The Data Privacy Framework, once finalized, will re-establish a mechanism for certified businesses to conduct trans-Atlantic data transfers between the US and EU. According to the announcement, the new Data Privacy Framework will address the concerns raised by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) when it invalidated the EU-US Privacy Shield in its Schrems II decision in July 2020. The Data Privacy Framework will adopt new safeguards to ensure that US intelligence activities are limited to what is necessary and proportionate to protect national security, and also create a new redress system to address the complaints of EU citizens.
As one of the architects of the Trusted Cloud Principles (a cloud-industry initiative to help safeguard the interests of organizations and the basic rights of individuals using cloud), AWS fully supports improved rules and regulations that advance privacy and security protections for any organization that wants to use cloud technologies and maintain control of their data.
While organizations using AWS technology have been able to conduct trans-Atlantic data transfers even after Schrems II, the new Data Privacy Framework will ensure further clarity and agility for our customers in their data transfer assessments. This will help our customers unlock value in terms of growth, digital transformation, and global competitive advantage.
Organizations that want to trade with speed and agility to and from the European Economic Area (EEA) need certainty that their goals to innovate and invest in the best technology for growth is supported by international frameworks promoting privacy across borders. Once finalized, the new Data Privacy Framework, coupled with our continued commitment to privacy at AWS, will provide even more simplicity and confidence for customers who choose to transfer data to and from Europe when using AWS services.
More than ever, our collective security requires mutual trust across both sides of the Atlantic and beyond. We therefore look forward to participating in, and remain committed to, the finalization of the Data Privacy Framework. We also support efforts to build broad consensus around the appropriate balance between privacy and security in forums such as the OECD’s workstream on trusted government access to data held by the private sector.
AWS is committed to protecting customer data. We continue to help customers successfully meet evolving European laws and standards, and achieve the highest levels of security, privacy, and resilience. AWS already offers comprehensive technical, operational, and contractual measures to protect and transfer customer content outside of Europe in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Schrems II ruling. Customers can also choose to store their content in the European Union by selecting any one or more of our regions in France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, and later in 2022, Spain, with the confidence that their data stays in the AWS Region they select. In addition, customers can use an advanced set of access, encryption, and logging features to maintain full control of their content.
Today, AWS customers can also transfer their data outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) by relying on the new Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) included in the AWS Data Processing Addendum (DPA), which is supplemented by our strengthened contractual commitments to protect customer data, such as challenging law enforcement requests that conflict with EU law.
We also have a wide variety of tools available to enhance the security of cross-border data transfers for customers with global services. For example, AWS CloudHSM and AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS) allow customers to encrypt data in transit and at rest, and securely generate and manage control of encryption keys. By building on top of the AWS Nitro System, our answer to confidential computing, which includes the use of specialized hardware and associated firmware to protect customer code and data during processing from outside access, customers can further secure data during processing, and thereby enhance confidentiality and privacy.
AWS has achieved internationally recognized certifications and attestations that demonstrate compliance with rigorous international privacy and security standards, including the Cloud Infrastructure Services in Europe (CISPE) Data Protection Code of Conduct, Cloud Computing Compliance Controls Catalog (C5), ISO27018, and the Esquema National de Securidad (ENS, Spain).
As well as benefitting from these existing measures, our extensive online resources can help customers more easily complete data-transfer assessments and fulfill their GDPR compliance requirements, in accordance with the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) recommendations. This includes regular Information Request Reports showing requests to access data from governments and our responses.
Our technical paper Navigating Compliance with EU Data Transfer Requirements and AWS’s Privacy Features for AWS Services provide further information to help customers assess the right services for their individual needs.
If you have questions or need more information, visit our EU Data Protection page.
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Michael Punke is Vice President for Global Public Policy, Amazon Web Services, and lives with his family in Montana. He has more than 25 years of experience in international trade and regulatory issues. Punke served from 2010 to 2017 as Deputy US Trade Representative and US Ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva.