Today, the EU Commission formally approved Israel’s status as a country providing “adequate protection” for personal data under the European Data Protection Directive.  The Data Protection Directive generally prohibits personal data from being transferred outside the EU unless the data is subject to an “adequate level of protection,” or certain narrow exceptions apply.  As a result of the adequacy finding, companies will no longer need to rely on model contract clauses or obtain approvals from European DPAs before transferring data to Israel.  To date, only seven other jurisdictions, including Argentina, Canada, Switzerland, and several English Channel Islands, have qualified for adequacy status.  The U.S. is partially covered by the Safe Harbor Agreement.

In November, Covington published an e-alert with details about the European Commission determination that Israel provides adequate protection for personal data.  The European Parliament had one month to scrutinize that determination, and the Commission formally adopted a decision on the adequacy of Israel’s data protections yesterday, January 31, 2011.