Reuters International

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland has struck an accord on exchanging personal data with the United States along the lines of a deal Washington and the European Union agreed last year aimed at ensuring Europeans' data privacy, the government said on Wednesday.

Under that Privacy Shield agreement that came into force in August, the United States agreed to limit the collection of and access to Europeans' data stored on U.S. servers because of EU concerns about data privacy and mass U.S. surveillance.

That pact came after a previous deal, called Safe Harbour, was thrown out by the EU's top court in October 2015, leaving thousands of firms scrambling for legal ways to provide data on transactions ranging from credit cards to travel and e-commerce that underpin billions of dollars of transatlantic trade.

The Swiss-US Privacy Shield agreement applies the same conditions as the EU for sending personal data from Switzerland to companies based in the United States, the Swiss government said after a cabinet meeting.

The European Commission said in November it asked the United States about a secret court order that Yahoo used to scan thousands of customer emails for possible terrorism links amid concerns that may have violated the new data pact.

The United States had pledged not to engage in mass, indiscriminate espionage, assuaging Commission concerns about the privacy of Europeans' data stored on U.S. servers following disclosures of intrusive U.S. surveillance programmes in 2013 by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Privacy Shield provides for a joint annual review to ensure the United States is respecting its commitment to limit the amount of data hoovered up by U.S. agents.

(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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