On June 20, 2019, Keith Krach was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to become the Trump administration’s first permanent Privacy Shield Ombudsperson at the State Department.  The role of the Privacy Shield Ombudsperson is to act as an additional redress avenue for all EU data subjects whose data is transferred from the EU or Switzerland to the U.S. under the EU-U.S. and the Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework, respectively.

As Ombudsperson, Krach will be responsible for dealing with complaints and requests from individuals in the EU and Switzerland, including in relation to U.S. national security access to data transmitted from the EU or Switzerland to the U.S.  The Ombudsperson works with other Government officials and independent oversight bodies to review and respond to requests.  Krach’s role as Ombudsperson forms part of his duties as the Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment.  The Under Secretary is independent from the intelligence services and reports directly to the Secretary of State.

The formal approval of a permanent Privacy Shield Ombudsperson will be welcomed at EU level.  As we have previously reported, the European Data Protection Board praised the appointment of a permanent Ombudsperson in its January report regarding the second annual review of the Privacy Shield.  In addition, the Commission has emphasized that the Ombudsperson is “an important mechanism that ensures complaints concerning access to personal data by U.S. authorities are addressed.”  This appointment comes at a time when both the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield and the Standard Contractual Clauses are under scrutiny in the European courts.