d.    Recourse Mechanisms
  • i.    Consumers should be encouraged to raise any complaints they may have with the relevant organization before proceeding to independent recourse mechanisms.  Organizations must respond to a consumer within 45 days of receiving a complaint.  Whether a recourse mechanism is independent is a factual question that can be demonstrated notably by impartiality, transparent composition and financing, and a proven track record.  As required by the Recourse, Enforcement and Liability Principle, the recourse available to individuals must be readily available and free of charge to individuals.  Dispute resolution bodies should look into each complaint received from individuals unless they are obviously unfounded or frivolous.  This does not preclude the establishment of eligibility requirements by the organization operating the recourse mechanism, but such requirements should be transparent and justified (for example, to exclude complaints that fall outside the scope of the program or are for consideration in another forum), and should not have the effect of undermining the commitment to look into legitimate complaints.  In addition, recourse mechanisms should provide individuals with full and readily available information about how the dispute resolution procedure works when they file a complaint.  Such information should include notice about the mechanism’s privacy practices, in conformity with the Privacy Shield Principles.  They should also cooperate in the development of tools such as standard complaint forms to facilitate the complaint resolution process.
  • ii.    Independent recourse mechanisms must include on their public websites information regarding the Privacy Shield Principles and the services that they provide under the Privacy Shield.  This information must include: (1) information on or a link to the Privacy Shield Principles’ requirements for independent recourse mechanisms; (2) a link to the Department’s Privacy Shield website; (3) an explanation that their dispute resolution services under the Privacy Shield are free of charge to individuals; (4) a description of how a Privacy Shield-related complaint can be filed; (5) the timeframe in which Privacy Shield-related complaints are processed; and (6) a description of the range of potential remedies.
  • iii.    Independent recourse mechanisms must publish an annual report providing aggregate statistics regarding their dispute resolution services.  The annual report must include: (1) the total number of Privacy Shield-related complaints received during the reporting year; (2) the types of complaints received; (3) dispute resolution quality measures, such as the length of time taken to process complaints; and (4) the outcomes of the complaints received, notably the number and types of remedies or sanctions imposed.
  • iv.    As set forth in Annex I, an arbitration option is available to an individual to determine, for residual claims, whether a Privacy Shield organization has violated its obligations under the Principles as to that individual, and whether any such violation remains fully or partially unremedied.  This option is available only for these purposes.  This option is not available, for example, with respect to the exceptions to the Principles5 or with respect to an allegation about the adequacy of the Privacy Shield.  Under this arbitration option, the Privacy Shield Panel (consisting of one or three arbitrators, as agreed by the parties) has the authority to impose individual-specific, non-monetary equitable relief (such as access, correction, deletion, or return of the individual’s data in question) necessary to remedy the violation of the Principles only with respect to the individual. Individuals and Privacy Shield organizations will be able to seek judicial review and enforcement of the arbitral decisions pursuant to U.S. law under the Federal Arbitration Act.
e.    Remedies and Sanctions
  • i.    The result of any remedies provided by the dispute resolution body should be that the effects of non-compliance are reversed or corrected by the organization, insofar as feasible, and that future processing by the organization will be in conformity with the Principles and, where appropriate, that processing of the personal data of the individual who brought the complaint will cease.  Sanctions need to be rigorous enough to ensure compliance by the organization with the Principles. A range of sanctions of varying degrees of severity will allow dispute resolution bodies to respond appropriately to varying degrees of non-compliance.  Sanctions should include both publicity for findings of non-compliance and the requirement to delete data in certain circumstances.6  Other sanctions could include suspension and removal of a seal, compensation for individuals for losses incurred as a result of non-compliance and injunctive awards.  Private sector dispute resolution bodies and self-regulatory bodies must notify failures of Privacy Shield organizations to comply with their rulings to the governmental body with applicable jurisdiction or to the courts, as appropriate, and to notify the Department.

5. Section I.5 of the Principles.
6. Dispute resolution bodies have discretion about the circumstances in which they use these sanctions.  The sensitivity of the data concerned is one factor to be taken into consideration in deciding whether deletion of data should be required, as is whether an organization has collected, used, or disclosed information in blatant contravention of the Privacy Shield Principles.


11. Dispute Resolution and Enforcement (a) - (c)
11. Dispute Resolution and Enforcement (d) - (e)
11. Dispute Resolution and Enforcement (f) - (g)