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For Immediate Release
Contact: Curt Cultice/Monica Hill, 202-482-3809

Wednesday, November 1, 2000

Commerce Under Secretary LaRussa
Announces Implementation of the Safe Harbor
New Commerce website enables U.S. organizations to sign up online

Washington-- The Commerce Department today took an important step towards ensuring the continued growth of e-commerce trade with Europe. U.S. organizations can now sign up to the U.S.-EU safe harbor privacy framework which enables them to comply with EU privacy rules.

The new website is www.export.gov/safeharbor. By committing to seven basic principles, including notice, choice, access, and enforcement, U.S. organizations can ensure uninterrupted flow of trans-Atlantic data.

"We must give U.S. businesses all the tools they need to expand trans-Atlantic trade in today's global economy," said Commerce Under Secretary Robert S. LaRussa. "Safe harbor provides a simpler and less expensive means of complying with the EU Privacy Directive."

The ability to sign up online streamlines the process and should be particularly beneficial to small and medium-sized enterprises.

The safe harbor framework, which became officially effective today, was developed by the Department of Commerce, in consultation with the European Commission, industry and non-governmental organizations to provide U.S. organizations with a practical means of satisfying the "adequacy" requirement under the European Directive on Data Protection. The safe harbor was officially recognized by the EU this past summer as a basis of protecting European citizens' privacy. For U.S. companies, it offers a way to avoid experiencing interruptions in their business dealings with the EU or facing prosecution by European authorities under European privacy laws.

Beginning today, U.S. companies can access the web site to learn about the safe harbor framework read the actual agreement, evaluate their needs, and sign up online.

EU organizations, in turn, can ensure that they are sending information to a U.S. organization participating in the safe harbor by viewing the online list of safe harbor organizations posted on the website. The list will contain the names of all U.S. companies that have committed to the safe harbor framework. This list will be regularly updated, so that it is clear who is assured of safe harbor benefits.

The Commerce Department will also hold a series of seminars that will help companies understand what is required to join Safe harbor, the benefits of joining, and examples of how companies have successfully used the safe harbor. Information on the seminars will be forthcoming and will posted on the website.

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