Privacy Shield

“The Circle” is a gripping modern thriller based on a novel by Dave Eggers, and starring Emma Watson, Tom Hanks and John Boyega : when Mae (Emma Watson) is hired to work for the world’s largest and most powerful tech & social media company, she sees it as the opportunity of a lifetime. As she rises through the ranks, she is encouraged by the company’s founder, Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks), to engage in a ground-breaking experiment that pushes the boundaries of privacy, ethics and ultimately her personal freedom. Her participation in the experiment, and every decision she makes begin to affect the lives and future of her friends, family and that of humanity.

I must confess to be an absolute fan of Emma Watson, not only because she played an unforgettable Hermione in Harry Potter, but also because of her career since then, and maybe even more thanks to her strong commitment to women’s rights.

But well, let’s be honest, “The Circle” is not a very good movie … certainly not as good as Dave Eggers’s novel. On review aggregator “Rotten Tomatoes”, the site’s critical consensus reads : “The Circle” assembles an impressive cast, but this digitally driven thriller spins aimlessly in its half-hearted exploration of timely themes.

The question to know whether the question of data protection is addressed as seriously in the US as in Europe is absolutely key.

In the European Union, data protection is considered as a fundamental freedom by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, which became legally binding on the EU institutions and on national governments with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, on 1 December 2009,

More than 90% of Europeans say they want the same data protection rights across the EU – and regardless of where their data is processed.

This will soon be a reality thanks to a reform package adopted early 2016, and consisting of two instruments : (i) the General Data Protection Regulation, enabling people to better control their personal data, and (ii) the Data Protection Directive for the police and criminal justice sector, ensuring that the data of victims, witnesses, and suspects of crimes, are duly protected in the context of a criminal investigation or a law enforcement action.

The new rules address the concerns of citizens by strengthening the existing rights and empowering individuals with more control over their personal data. Most notably, these include :

  • An easier access to their own data: individuals will have more information on how their data is processed and this information should be available in a clear and understandable way;
  • a right to data portability: it will be easier to transfer personal data between service providers;
  • a clarified “right to be forgotten”: when people will no longer want their data to be processed, and provided that there are no legitimate grounds for retaining it, the data will be deleted;
  • the right to know when their data have been hacked: For example, companies and organisations will have to notify the national supervisory authority of serious data breaches as soon as possible so that users can take appropriate measures.

The EU has the toughest privacy laws of any economic bloc in the world and only allows transfers to countries with the equivalent protections against surveillance.

On 2 February 2016 the European Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce reached a political agreement on a new framework for transatlantic exchanges of personal data for commercial purposes: the “EU-U.S. Privacy Shield” reflects the requirements set out by the European Court of Justice in its ruling on 6 October 2015, which declared the old Safe Harbor framework invalid. It was finally adopted on 12 July 2016.

But the story is not over: Mr. Schrems, the Austrian privacy activist who was at the origin of the october 2015 ruling, filed a renewed complaint with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, based on Facebook’s use of “standard contractual clauses” to authorize EU-US data transfers. Early October, Irish judges asked the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling on the case …

If you liked Schrems I (“Safe Harbor”), you are going to adore Schrems II (“Standard Contractual Clauses”).

But you can also have fun watching Emma Watson in “The Circle” !


Iconography : “SeeChange” tool, which uses small cameras placed anywhere to provide real time video, in “The Circle”, an american movie directed by James Ponsodt, based on Dave Egger’s 2013 novel of the same name, release April 2017


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