EU starts process to allow free flow of data to South Korea

FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 24, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union will now kick off the process to allow the free flow of data from the 27-country bloc to South Korea after concluding talks to iron out potential issues and tack on additional safeguards, the European Commission said on Tuesday.

Such adequacy decisions would allow businesses to transfer data from bank details to payroll processing and healthcare data, and also allow police to cooperate.

The discussion showed a similar high level of protection of personal data on both sides, the EU executive said, following a call between EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders and the head of South Korea’s Personal Information Protection Commission Yoon Jong In.

“The European Commission will now proceed with launching the decision-making procedure with a view to having the adequacy decision adopted as soon as possible in the coming months,” the EU executive said in a statement.

The draft decision will need feedback from EU data watchdog the European Data Protection Board and approval from the 27 EU countries before it can come into force.

EU concerns about data transfers have been growing ever since former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013 of mass U.S. surveillance. Such worries have resulted in Europe’s top court in rejecting two transatlantic data transfer deals in recent years.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Catherine Evans