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European data regulator Věra Jourová. Photo: Emmanual Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

Officials from the United States have entered the second day of discussions with their European counterparts in Brussels over the status of the Privacy Shield agreement, which allows Europeans to file complaints about how U.S. companies are using their data.

Why it matters: U.S. companies prize the agreement because it lets them easily host the data of European citizens stateside despite the differing regulatory regimes on the two sides of the Atlantic. This is the first time the arrangement is being reviewed since Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica data scandal triggered a privacy reckoning in the United States.

  • To satisfy European concerns, the Trump administration appointed an acting ombudsperson for the agreement and new members to a civilian privacy oversight board, known by the acronym PCLOB, which deals with law enforcement access to data.
  • The Federal Trade Commission recently settled with companies that made false claims about their involvement in the Privacy Shield certification process.

What they’re saying: "We discussed the visible progress: [PCLOB] appointments, declassification of important report about limits of US authorities in access to EU’s personal data or ongoing talks about privacy legislation in the US," tweeted European data regulator Věra Jourová after the first day of talks Thursday.

  • "We will be asking thorough questions on the Ombudsperson or vigorous enforcement," she said.

What’s next: On Friday, the group is expected to to tackle "developments concerning the collection of personal data by U.S. authorities for purposes of law enforcement or national security," per the European Commission.

  • Although the administration confirmed an acting ombudsperson, the role remains technically unfilled, and the Europeans are pushing for that role to become permanent and independent from the administration. The newly appointed ombudsperson still serves in another role in the State Department.

The bottom line: Depending on how the talks go, the European Commission concerns could be reflected in a formal report expected by the end of November.

Go deeper

Congress plots COVID pandemic-era office upgrades

oving crates outside Rep. Elise Stefanik's old office Tuesday. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The House plans to renovate members' suites even though staff are worried about an influx of contractors and D.C. is tightening restrictions on large gatherings, some staffers told Axios.

Why it matters: The Capitol has been closed to public tours since March. Work over the holiday season comes as U.S. coronavirus cases spike, Americans beg for more pandemic assistance and food lines grow.

Trump pressures Barr to release so-called Durham report

Bill Barr. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump and his allies are piling extreme pressure on Attorney General Bill Barr to release a report that Trump believes could hurt perceived Obama-era enemies — and view Barr's designation of John Durham as special counsel as a stall tactic, sources familiar with the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Speculation over Barr's fate grew on Tuesday, with just 49 days remaining in Trump's presidency, after Barr gave an interview to the Associated Press in which he said the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread fraud that could change the election's outcome.

CDC to cut guidance on quarantine period for coronavirus exposure

A health care worker oversees cars as people arrive to get tested for coronavirus at a testing site in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The CDC will soon shorten its guidance for quarantine periods following exposure to COVID-19, AP reported Tuesday and Axios can confirm.

Why it matters: Quarantine helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which can occur before a person knows they're sick or if they're infected without feeling any symptoms. The current recommended period to stay home if exposed to the virus is 14 days. The CDC plans to amend this to 10 days or seven with a negative test, an official told Axios.

  • The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.