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EU lawmakers back data-sharing deal on security, terrorism with U.S.

A worker adjusts European Union and U.S. flags at the start of the 2nd round of EU-US trade negotiations for Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels November 11, 2013. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Parliament lawmakers backed a data-sharing deal on Thursday with the United States for security and terrorism investigations which aims to safeguard data exchanged between national authorities.

The deal follows allegations of mass U.S. spying in 2013 which strained trans-Atlantic relations and triggered privacy concerns over what enforcement agencies plan to do with the huge amount of data they amass.

The green light from the parliament’s committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs is expected to be followed by approval from the entire Parliament on Dec. 1.

Justice and home affairs ministers in the 28 EU countries will approve the deal in the coming weeks, the final step before it comes into effect.

Six years in the making, the so-called umbrella agreement aims to safeguard personal data such as names, addresses and criminal records exchanged between police and judicial authorities, and between companies and law enforcement authorities in criminal investigations.

“EU citizens will have the same rights as U.S. citizens when they seek judicial redress before U.S. courts. This is a major step for the enforcement of fundamental rights for EU citizens,” lawmaker Axel Voss said in a statement.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Dominic Evans and Toby Chopra