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Otis Obtains European Union Binding Corporate Rules Certification


Earlier this month, regulators from the European Union (EU) concluded a detailed review of Otis’ processes for transferring personal data within the company. Following the rigorous assessment, an EU Binding Corporate Rules (BCR) certification was granted, marking a milestone that relatively few companies worldwide have achieved.

“This BCR certification validates our existing processes for transferring personal data are best in class,” explains Diane Andrews, Otis’ Chief Privacy Counsel, who guided the company through the BCR process. “The certification streamlines our approach to intercompany transfers and importantly, signals to our colleagues, customers and external stakeholders that we are deeply committed to protecting personal information that is entrusted to us.”

BCRs were developed by the European Union Article 29 Working Party (now the European Data Protection Board) to recognize multinational corporations committed to strict privacy compliance programs. BCRs allow international companies to easily transfer personally identifiable information (PII) across national borders between and among entities of the same corporate group without the need for a complex web of intercompany agreements.

Over the course of the more than two year BCR journey, Andrews faced a multitude of legal obstacles, including new obligations arising from the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), as well as major court decisions that affected certain guiding principles that had to be reflected in the BCRs – all during an uncertain pandemic environment due to COVID. The approval process also required Otis to submit its entire privacy compliance program to the European Supervisory Authorities to be scrutinized.

“Throughout the process, they questioned and challenged our assumptions and controls, and even asked us to change or expand certain aspects of our program,” said Andrews. “All items needed to be resolved before gaining full approval.”

The Otis Elevator Company is an American company (owned by United Technologies) that develops, manufactures and markets elevators, escalators, moving walkways, and related equipment. Based in Farmington, Connecticut, Otis is the world’s largest manufacturer of vertical transportation systems, principally focusing on elevators, moving walkways, and escalators. The company pioneered the development of the “safety elevator”, invented by Elisha Otis in 1852, which used a special mechanism to lock the elevator car in place should the hoisting ropes fail.

Otis has installed elevators in some of the world’s most famous structures, including the Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building, the original World Trade Center, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Petronas Twin Towers, Burj Khalifa, CN Tower, the Winchester Mystery House, the Hotel del Coronado, the Demarest Building (first electric elevator), the Singing Tower at Bok Tower Gardens, and the Skylon Tower.

In 1852 Elisha Otis invented the safety elevator, which automatically comes to a halt if the hoisting rope breaks. After a demonstration at the 1854 New York World’s Fair the elevator industry established credibility. The Otis Elevator Company was founded in Yonkers, New York in 1853 by Elisha Otis. When Elisha died in 1861, his sons Charles and Norton formed a partnership and continued the business. During the American Civil War, their elevators were in high demand due to the shipment of war materials. Businesses throughout the United States purchased them. In 1864, with the partnership of J.M. Alvord, the company became known as Otis Brothers & Co. In 1867, Otis opened a factory in Yonkers, New York, the city where the company was founded..In 1925, the world’s first fully automatic elevator, Collective Control, was introduced. Otis opened a factory in Bloomington, Indiana in 1965..Fayette S. Dunn became president of the company Otis was acquired by United Technologies in 1976 and became a wholly owned subsidiary.

Otis Elevator Company purchased Evans Lifts in the UK when Evans Lifts Ltd went bankrupt in 1997 during its merge with Express Lift Company with the name ExpressEvans. It was the oldest and largest manufacturer of lift equipment in the UK, and was based in Leicester, England.

In 1999, Otis acquired CemcoLift, Inc, located in Hatfield, Pennsylvania. The operation was later closed in October 2012, with the remaining business being sold to Minnesota Elevator Inc. In 2002, Ari Bousbib became president of Otis.

Beginning in 2011, Otis cut its manufacturing operations in Nogales and supply-chain operations in Tucson, Arizona as part of a consolidation of manufacturing operations in Florence, South Carolina, where Otis purchased a former Maytag facility on 92 acres. As part of the consolidation, Otis shut down its Bloomington facility in 2012. In February 2012, Pedro Sainz de Baranda was named President of the company, replacing Michaud-Daniel.

In October 2013, Otis won its biggest ever contract; it will supply 670 elevators and escalators to the Hyderabad Metro.  Its second biggest contract was in 2012, to supply 349 elevators for the Hangzhou metro. In 2014, Otis had more than 64,000 employees, with revenue of US$13.0 billion. The company headquarters are located in Farmington, Connecticut.

On July 9, 2018 a one year old Otis escalator at Stockholm City Station changed direction from up to a rapid descent, in what local officials called a “free fall”, causing minor injuries. Inspection of the gear boxes of several Otis escalators revealed unexpected rust and heavy wear. This led to the newly-built train stations Stockholm City Station and Stockholm Odenplan being temporarily closed on July 13, 2018, for security reasons until the problems were understood and resolved.

United Technologies will be divesting Otis Elevator into an independent company, announced on November 26, 2018.

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