BRUSSELS – On September 23, GMF hosted in partnership with the United States Mission to the European Union a discussion on how to build a transatlantic partnership on data transfer and privacy protection. The lively debate was moderated by John Richardson, Senior Advisor at GMF. Speakers were Mary Ellen Callahan, Chief Privacy Officer and Chief Freedom of Information Act Officer of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Nancy Libin, Chief Privacy and Civil Liberties Officer, U.S. Department of Justice, Marie-Hélène Boulanger, Head of Unit for Data Protection, DG Justice, European Commission and Professor Paul De Hert, from the Law, Science, Technology & Society Studies at the Free University Brussels. De Hert started by addressing the need for a transatlantic partnership on the issue, but warned that the EU is not ready yet for signing off on an overreaching agreement (in contrast to today’s’ ad-hoc cooperation). He displayed skepticism towards Washington calling on Brussels to rapidly embrace new technologies, such as airport body scanners. Before further shaping any overreaching agreement with the U.S., De Hert thinks the EU should first better assess the pros and cons of current approach. Libin outlined the numerous bodies within the U.S. administration that deal with data protection. This shows the importance given by U.S. authorities to individual privacy policies. She stressed that ‘privacy’ is a fundamental right protected by the 4th Amendment. Libin hoped that further transatlantic dialogue would help avoiding existing misperceptions in the EU about U.S privacy policies and improve mutual understanding and transparency. Boulanger agreed and said that different legal traditions and policy approaches at both sides of the Atlantic complicate the negotiations towards an overreaching partnership. However, she stressed that such agreement is essential. As more data is being exchanged, the more need there is to find clear and efficient cooperation rules. Callahan confirmed there are some differences in legal traditions but also indicated there is sufficient ground to find an overreaching agreement on data policy between the US and EU. She further explained that in her role as Chief Privacy Officer her priority is to guarantee data protections and privacy policies are being implemented and respected throughout all security programs and activities. Misuse of data in the U.S. unavoidably leads to prosecution.