The US Secretary of Commerce has said that the United States remains deeply concerned about a ruling by the EU Court of Justice last July that invalidated the EU and US Privacy Shield agreement that governs transatlantic data transfers.
Wilbur Ross said that the ruling in the so-called Schrems II case also has negative implications for the viability of using Standard Contractual Clauses, Binding Corporate Rules and other mechanisms for EU-US data transfers.
Addressing the US Ireland Economic Roundtable organised by Ireland Inc, he said the data transfer mechanisms underpin the $7.1 trillion transatlantic economic relationship.
Mr Ross said if EU and US companies continue to face legal burdens and uncertainty while transferring data across the Atlantic, the US and Europe will face what he described as 'severe economic consequences.'
He said last August a joint statement was released announcing discussions to evaluate the potential for an enhanced EU/US data transfer framework to comply with the court's ruling.
He added that last September the US Government released a white paper to assist organisations in assessing whether their EU/US data transfers offer appropriate protective devices in accordance with the Schrems II ruling.
Mr Ross said that the Trump administration remains committed to and is actively working with EU partners to address the uncertainty created by the Schrems II ruling and to find an enduring solution that entails continuity for transatlantic data flows and strong privacy protections.
The Commerce Secretary said his department will continue to make resources available to Ireland's businesses and Government.
He said deepening bilateral and economic ties is essential to economic recovery for both nations.
Last July, the European Court of Justice struck down the Privacy Shield agreement as it found it did not sufficiently protect the data of European citizens when it is in the US.
The court, however, ruled that so-called Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) continue to be valid, as long as there are "effective mechanisms that make it possible... to ensure compliance with the level of protection required by EU law".
But Facebook has since been told by the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) that it has reached a draft preliminary decision that SCCs cannot in practice be used for such transfers because such protections are not in place.
The social network subsequently launched a High Court action against the DPC, seeking to have the draft decision quashed.
Facebook is claiming it has significant concerns about its ability to deliver its services to its 400 million European users as a result of the regulator's decision.
- additional reporting Will Goodbody