Cover Letter from Acting Under Secretary for International Trade, Michelle O’Neill

January 30, 2009

Dear Colleagues:

I am pleased to announce that the U.S. Department of Commerce, in order to foster, promote, and develop international trade, formally transmitted the Safe Harbor Privacy Principles and related documents to the Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC) of the government of Switzerland on December 1, 2008. On January 8, 2009, the Swiss notified the United States that is has completed its review and has recognized the legal validity of the agreement between the two countries. The U.S.-Swiss Safe Harbor Privacy Principles and related documentation will be posted on our website (

The Principles, which include a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that supplement the U.S.-Swiss Safe Harbor Privacy Principles, are intended to serve as authoritative guidance to U.S. companies and other organizations receiving personal data from the Confederation of Switzerland. Organizations receiving personal data transfers from Switzerland and complying with the Principles will be considered to meet the "adequacy" requirements of Switzerland’s Federal Act on Data Protection (FADP). The Principles thus establish a predictable basis for such transfers.

Finalizing this arrangement culminates over 12 months of discussions with the Swiss. Founded on the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework, Swiss version reinforces the importance of data flows for global trade. It bridges the differences between Swiss and U.S. approaches to privacy protection and will ensure that data flows between the U.S. and Switzerland are not interrupted. As a result, it should help ensure that e-commerce continues to flourish.

Details on the self-certification process are now available on the Safe Harbor website (


Michelle O’Neill

Acting Under Secretary for International Trade Administration