Sunday 4 December 2016

New threat to Facebook as Irish commissioner questions key data law

Adrian Wecker

Published 26/05/2016 | 02:30

The court said that the revelations by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden demonstrated that US authorities are indiscriminately snooping on European citizens' personal communications. Stock image
The court said that the revelations by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden demonstrated that US authorities are indiscriminately snooping on European citizens' personal communications. Stock image

Facebook, Google, Twitter and other multinational tech giants in Ireland face new uncertainty with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner saying that their data transfers may not be in compliance with European law.

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Irish Data Commissioner Helen Dixon said yesterday that her office now has doubts over the legality of so-called "model contract clauses", data transfer instruments relied upon by many businesses in their transactions with US firms.

Ms Dixon, who is the primary European data regulator of the world's biggest social media and online firms, said that she will now refer the question to the High Court and the European Court of Justice.

If the ECJ strikes model contract clauses down, as many observers expect it would, it leaves thousands of European companies in a new limbo over their data transfers to the US.

Last year, the ECJ struck down the 'Safe Harbour' treaty between the EU and US, on the grounds that it was insufficient to protect the data privacy of EU citizens.

The court said that the revelations by the US whistleblower Edward Snowden demonstrated that US authorities are indiscriminately snooping on European citizens' personal communications.

Technology firms are among Ireland's biggest employers.

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