Friday 21 October 2016

Future of Facebook data transfers to be decided as ECJ to rule on Irish privacy case

Published 06/10/2015 | 07:55


The future of data transfers from the EU to the US by companies such as Facebook, Google, eBay and Amazon will be decided later today.

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The European Court of Justice will rule on the case that was brought forward to the Irish High Court by Austrian, Max Schrems.

The ruling is set to reshape international regulations regarding people’s information online.

Speaking in September EU adviser, Yves Bot, recommended that the ‘Safe Harbour’ agreement, which is an agreement over the transfer of data between the EU and US, was invalid.

Gerard Rudden, Mr Schrems's lawyer, said there is also the potential for lawsuits over Safe Harbour.

"If it is held that Safe Harbour is invalid and Facebook have been transferring data, that could open the door to compensation claims," he said.

Mr Schrem’s decision to battle over Safe Harbour was sparked by Edward Snowden’s revelations over the US National Security Agency (NSA)'s Prism surveillance system which allowed spies to access enormous amounts of data from global tech companies.

He initially took a lawsuit in Ireland after failing to secure an investigation into Facebook by the country's Data Protection Commission, which has the authority to audit the social media giant.

Mr Schrems claimed Ireland's data watchdog had an onus to uncover what information Facebook held on users and ultimately what was being transferred to the US under Safe Harbour and being accessed through Prism.

The case was taken in Dublin as every Facebook user outside the US and Canada has a contract with Facebook Ireland.

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