The EU is Re-evaluating the Recognition of Israel’s Adequacy for Cross-Border Data Transfers

The European Union is reexamining its 2011 adequacy finding of Israel which had cleared the path for cross-border transfers of personal data from the EU to Israel, the Head of the Israeli Privacy Protection Authority, Adv. Alon Bachar, revealed at a conference held by Pearl Cohen’s Internet, Cyber and Copyright Group on "Europe and Israel: The Data Protection Revolution is Here”. The conference explored the new Israeli data security regulations, the forthcoming GDPR and privacy and data protection related developments in case law and regulatory enforcement.

Bachar indicated that all countries that have been recognized in the past in an EU adequacy decision are undergoing a similar reexamination process, yet Israel is one of the first countries to be reexamined. The head of Israel’s privacy watchdog noted that “we are doing all we can to ensure that this status, which has had very significant economic implications, is preserved."

Speaking at the event, Adv. Haim Ravia, Senior Partner and head of Pearl Cohen’s Internet, Cyber and copyright group, warned that new data security threats materialize in manners that traditional data protection laws, including the new Israeli Regulations, did not foresee. According to Adv. Ravia, "modern threats to data security originate from robust sources such as super-powers and state actors. Israel is threatened by Iran, China and Russia as well as state-sponsored terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas. These threats are directed not only against the privacy of individuals but against national security, economic interests and in some cases civil liberties.” Ravia expressed concern that the objective of safeguarding data protection for national security interests will ultimately serve the state to encroach on privacy, as was done with the Israeli Biometric Database Law and the Telecom Data Law.