Privacy Shield Ombudsperson Missing

America’s Privacy Shield Ombudsperson is missing.

Last year, the US and the EU implemented the Privacy Shield agreement. The Privacy Shield agreement is supposed to protect personal data transferred from the EU to the US. The agreement has come under heavy criticism. The EU Parliament will soon decide whether or not to approve a resolution which casts serious doubt on the agreement’s legality.

One of the key provisions of the agreement was the creation of the Privacy Shield Ombudsperson. In 2016, the then Secretary of State, John Kerry, appointed the Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and Environment, Catherine Novelli, to perform the duties of the Privacy Shield Ombudsperson. Under the agreement, the ombudsperson is supposed to handle complaints about US agencies’ collection and use of signals intelligence (in other words, when the US government spies on people in the EU). The ombudsperson is supposed to be independent of the US intelligence agencies, but that would be exceedingly difficult considering that the State Department is one of the 17 federal agencies which form the US intelligence community.

The US State Department’s website still lists the Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and Environment as the Privacy Shield Ombudsperson. There is a big problem: no one is currently the Under Secretary. Under Secretary Novelli quit back in January of this year, and the US Senate has not confirmed anyone to replace her. According to federal law, although a career civil service employee currently steps in to act as the Under Secretary, the position is technically vacant.

According to Congress’ website, President Trump has not nominated anyone to become the Under Secretary. If you would like to be the next US Privacy Shield Ombudsperson, please submit your resume to the White House.

Since the Under Secretary position is a political appointment, the President can fire the permanent ombudsperson at any time, without cause. Be warned that this is not a stable job prospect. America’s current President is the same person who tried to trademark the phrase “YOU’RE FIRED” .

Article by Rachael Tackett

Update: Article updated on April 9, 2017 to display author’s name.

Photo CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, Attribution Flickr user cupcake_eater


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