To allow companies time to review the Privacy Shield Framework and update their compliance programs, the Department of Commerce will begin accepting self-certifications to the Privacy Shield on August 1.
The following guide to self-certification is provided to assist companies as they review the Framework and prepare to self-certify. As explained in greater detail in section three below, as part of this process, companies will need to identify an independent dispute resolution provider prior to self-certifying and register with that provider where required. Given this sequencing, private sector dispute resolution providers may enable companies to register through their programs prior to August 1.
Guide to Self-Certification
The decision by a U.S.-based organization to join the Privacy Shield program is entirely voluntary. However, once an eligible organization publicly commits to comply with the Privacy Shield Principles through self-certification, that commitment is enforceable under U.S. law by the relevant enforcement authority, either the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
In order to receive Privacy Shield benefits, an organization must self-certify annually to the Department of Commerce that it agrees to adhere to the Privacy Shield Principles, a detailed set of requirements based on privacy principles such as notice, choice, access, and accountability for onward transfer. A brief guide to the self-certification process, including steps that the organization must take prior to self-certification, is provided below. This guide should be read in conjunction with the complete set of Privacy Shield Principles, which includes 16 Supplemental Principles as well as the accompanying letters from the International Trade Administration, FTC and DOT, which provide information regarding the oversight, administration and enforcement of the Framework. Following these steps will help to ensure that your organization is meeting the requirements for self-certification, as set forth in Supplemental Principle 6 (Self-Certification).
1. Confirm Your Organization’s Eligibility to Participate in the Privacy Shield: Any U.S. organization that is subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the Department of Transportation (DOT) may participate in the Privacy Shield. The FTC and DOT have both committed that they will enforce the Privacy Shield Framework.
- Generally, the FTC’s jurisdiction covers acts or practices in or affecting commerce by any “person, partnership, or corporation.” The FTC does not have jurisdiction over most depository institutions (banks, federal credit unions, and savings & loan institutions), telecommunications and interstate transportation common carrier activities, air carriers, labor associations, most non-profit organizations, and most packer and stockyard activities. In addition, the FTC’s jurisdiction with regard to insurance activities is limited to certain circumstances.
- The DOT has exclusive jurisdiction over U.S. and foreign air carriers. The DOT and the FTC share jurisdiction over ticket agents that market air transportation.
- If you are uncertain as to whether your organization falls under the jurisdiction of either the FTC or DOT, then please be sure to contact the Privacy Shield Team at the Department of Commerce for more information.
3. Identify Your Organization's Independent Recourse Mechanism: Under the Framework’s Recourse, Enforcement and Liability Principle, self-certifying organizations must provide an independent recourse mechanism available to investigate unresolved complaints at no cost to the individual. (See Supplemental Principle 11 (Dispute Resolution and Enforcement) for more information regarding dispute resolution under Privacy Shield.)
- Organizations self-certifying under Privacy Shield may utilize private sector dispute resolution programs as the independent recourse mechanism. Organizations like the Council of Better Business Bureaus (BBB), TRUSTe, the American Arbitration Association (AAA), JAMS, and the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) have developed programs that assist in compliance with the Framework's Recourse, Enforcement and Liability Principle and Supplemental Principle 11 (Dispute Resolution and Enforcement).
- Alternatively, organizations may choose to cooperate and comply with the EU data protection authorities (DPAs) with respect to all types of data. In doing so, an organization must follow the procedures outlined in Supplemental Principle 5 (The Role of the Data Protection Authorities).
- If your organization’s self-certification will cover human resources data (personal information about employees, past or present, collected in the context of the employment relationship), then your organization must agree to cooperate and comply with the EU DPAs with respect to such data. Additional guidance on the handling of human resources data under the Framework is provided in Supplemental Principle 9 (Human Resources Data).
- Organizations that either choose to or must utilize the EU DPAs are required to pay an annual fee to cover the operating costs of the EU DPA panel.
4. Ensure that Your Organization's Verification Mechanism is in Place: As discussed in Supplemental Principle 7 (Verification), organizations self-certifying to the Framework are required to have procedures in place for verifying compliance. To meet this requirement, your organization may use either a self-assessment or an outside/third-party assessment program. For additional guidance on the Framework's verification requirement, please see Supplemental Principle 7.
5. Designate a Contact within Your Organization Regarding Privacy Shield: Each organization is required to provide a contact for the handling of questions, complaints, access requests, and any other issues arising under the Privacy Shield. This contact can be either the corporate officer that is certifying your organization's compliance with the Framework, or another official within your organization, such as a Chief Privacy Officer. Under the Privacy Shield, organizations must respond to individuals within 45 days of receiving a complaint.