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Cameron Kerry, US Department of Commerce, on Safe Harbor, Net Neutrality & International Interoperability

December 21, 2011 - ICT

Cameron Kerry, General Counsel at the United States Department of Commerce, met with technology journalist Jennifer Baker to discuss data security, Safe Harbor, net neutrality and international interoperability amongst others.

First point of discussion is the question, whether cultural & political approaches differ between the United States and the European Union when it regards data security? The General Counsel recognizes that there are legal differences between both entities, but points out that there is a great deal of convergence at the same time. Without question, both strive to increase international interoperability.

Ms Baker points out that in the case of Cloud Computing – where servers could be located anywhere in the world –serious concerns have been raised with regard to self-regulation. Especially about the ‘Safe Harbor’ project, which provides guidance for U.S. organizations on how to provide protection for personal data from Europe as required by the European Union’s Directive on Data Protection.

Some doubt whether this system can be considered effective, given that it involves self-certification and regulation. Mr Kerry stresses that it is not a self-regulatory system without implications. According to the General Council at the U.S. Department of Commerce, the settlements that the Federal Trade Commission reached with Google and Facebook have proven that these commitments within the ‘Safe Harbor’ framework get enforced.

Additionally, attention is paid to Net Neutrality and the regulation recently adopted by the United States Federal Communication Commission. Looking forward at the future release of the EU Data Protection Directive by Commissioner Reding for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, Kerry hopes that the directive will reflect what Reding stated about international interoperability in the past. As he believes that international interoperability is just as important for the EU as the Internal Market.

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