NEW FPF STUDY DOCUMENTS OVER 150 EUROPEAN COMPANIES PARTICIPATING IN THE US-EU SAFE HARBOR PROGRAM. FROM MAJOR EMPLOYERS SUCH AS ALCATEL LUCENT, ADIDAS, BMW, NOKIA TO FAST-GROWING START-UPS LIKE APP DEVELOPER MIND CANDY, EUROPEAN COMPANIES DEPEND ON EU-US AGREEMENT
The Future of Privacy Forum has conducted a study of the US-EU Safe Harbor program run by the United States Department of Commerce and has documented that more than 150 European companies are active Safe Harbor participants.
Recently, some European policymakers have called for an end to the Safe Harbor program, while others have called for the program to be improved. FPF believes that simply terminating the program would have negative consequences for data protection and for companies and consumers not only in the United States, but in Europe as well. FPF has previously noted the consequences of termination for those European employees who rely on the Safe Harbor program for the processing of their human resources data.¹ FPF’s new study reveals that termination would adversely impact many leading European companies as well. To date, 152² active Safe Harbor member companies are headquartered or co-headquartered in European countries. These companies include some of Europe’s largest employers, across a wide range of industries and countries, including:
- Alcatel Lucent, French telecommunications equipment company
- Adidas, German shoe and clothing manufacturer
- BMW, German automotive company
- Bayer, German chemical and pharmaceutical company
- Ericsson, Swedish communications technology provider
- Nokia, Finnish communications and information technology corporation
- Software AG, German enterprise software company
- Sodexo, French food services and facilities management corporation
- Bertelsmann, Inc., German multimedia corporation
- InterContinental Hotels Group, British hotel company
- Telefónica, Spanish mobile network provider
- Mind Candy Inc., British children’s app developer and creator of mobile game “Moshi Monsters”
- Ingersoll-Rand, Irish global diversified industrial company
- Dassault, major French manufacturer and software developer
- Vodafone, major British telecommunications company
These and other participating European companies depend on the Safe Harbor program so that their US subsidiaries can effectively use data for research, to improve products, to pay employees and serve customers. These companies would therefore be severely burdened and disadvantaged by termination of the program. FPF agrees with the need to improve the Safe Harbor in a number of key areas and has detailed these recommendations in a recently-released report.³ Given the importance of this mechanism to companies and consumers on both sides of the Atlantic, FPF recommends that the Safe Harbor arrangement be preserved and improved.
- FPF staff downloaded a list of current Safe Harbor companies as of March 2014 from the export.gov website
- FPF staff performed a web search for each current company by name (removing subsidiary indicators such as “[company] USA”), checking the location of the company’s headquarters on a combination of public databases such as LinkedIn, CrunchBase, Google Maps, and the company’s own website
- A company that listed its headquarters in an EU member state or in Switzerland was counted as a match; companies that merely had a prominent EU office or founded in an EU member state were not counted
- Once the list was compiled, it was re-checked and duplicates (additional subsidiaries of a single European parent) were removed
- 152 total companies were found using this method
For the full list of European companies in the Safe Harbor program, or to schedule an interview with Christopher Wolf or Jules Polonetsky, email FPFMedia@FutureofPrivacy.org.
ABOUT FUTURE OF PRIVACY FORUM
Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) is a Washington, DC based think tank that seeks to advance responsible data practices. FPF is led by Internet privacy experts Jules Polonetsky and Christopher Wolf and includes an advisory board comprised of leading figures from industry, academia, law and advocacy groups.
2 The survey does not include those global companies with EU offices and as a result is a conservative estimate of impacted European companies.
3 For a comprehensive list of FPF’s recommendations, see The US-EU Safe Harbor: An Analysis of the Framework’s Effectiveness in Protecting Personal Privacy, available at http://www.futureofprivacy.org/wp-content/uploads/FPF-Safe-Harbor-Report.pdf