Technology

An association files a complaint against Amazon for illegal transfer of personal data

The Breton association 0D, which is dedicated to the protection of personal data, has filed a complaint against Amazon Europe with the Quimper Prosecutor’s Office (Finisterre), we learned about it in a press release published on November 10, 2021. It accuses the company Violating various articles of the criminal code regarding the security, collection and transfer of personal data outside the European Union.

An illegal transfer to the United States

Contacted by L’Usine Digitale, 0D cites in particular a decision issued by the Portuguese data protection authority, the equivalent of the National Commission for Informatics and Freedoms (Cnil), which declared data transfers illegal. From the National Institute of Statistics to the United States. State. “The use of standard contractual clauses does not exempt the establishment of additional measures to achieve a level of data protection equivalent in third countries to that guaranteed by EU law,” explains the association. However, Amazon, as a US company operating within the EU, also transfers personal data to the US, it adds.

To understand the 0D accusations, you have to go back a few months. In July 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union annulled the Privacy Shield. This text simplified transfers of personal data to the United States by recognizing that US law offered the same guarantees as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It is the ability of US authorities to access the data of European citizens if it is hosted on a US cloud provider that is at the heart of the dispute.

The alternative to the Privacy Shield is the conclusion of standard contractual clauses between the two parties who wish to transfer data. These are models of transfer contracts adopted by the European Commission in order to facilitate the task of those responsible for the treatment. The European Data Protection Council (EDPS) has issued a series of recommendations to protect data flows across the Atlantic. Hence, data storage in a third country where there is no access to the encrypted data and where the encryption keys are held by the data exporter or a trusted entity within the EU.

AWS’s Choice for Doctolib in Court

This is not the first time that Amazon has been involved in a case related to transfers of personal data. Associations and unions had submitted a request to the State Council in March 2021 to obtain the cancellation of the association between the State and Doctolib in the framework of the appointment for vaccination against Covid-19. They considered that the medical data related to the vaccination campaign was not sufficiently protected, since it is hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS).

These assertions were rejected by the Council of State, which considered that the data was sufficiently protected thanks to a modification of the hosting contract that made it possible to fight against the dominance of the US authorities over the information of French patients.

Amazon, obviously, is not the only company concerned about this problem. Microsoft’s choice to host the Health Data Hub data is questioned for similar reasons. Unlike Doctolib and AWS, the answer is much less clear, to the point that the government has promised to break the contract with Microsoft and select a new French or European host.

TOO STRICT RESTRICTIONS FOR FRENCH COMPANIES

If the Quimper Prosecutor decides to initiate a procedure, the outcome of the dispute may therefore clarify the future of personal data transfers to the United States. This is also what some French companies ask for. They consider that the guarantees that are now required imply “too important legal and technical limitations (analysis of local laws and systematic encryption of data) that do not take into account economic realities”. Therefore, the only solution remains the adoption of a new Privacy Shield, which for the moment seems impossible because Brussels expects Washington to make a profound change in the legal arsenal on surveillance.

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