Saturday 17 March 2018

Tech companies facing uncertain future ask European Commission 'now what?'

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Facebook led a chorus of concern after the European Court of Justice's ruling on data transfers.

"What is at issue is one of the mechanisms that European law provides to enable essential transatlantic data flows," said a spokesman for the social networking giant, which employs almost 1,000 people in Dublin.

"Facebook, like many thousands of European companies, relies on a number of the methods prescribed by EU law to legally transfer data to the US from Europe, aside from Safe Harbour. It is imperative that EU and US governments resolve any issues relating to national security."

The ruling, which removes a presumption of legal privacy compliance from data transfers between US and European companies, will cause uncertainty in tech companies, according to others in the industry.

"Companies have worked under this agreement for 15 years," said Christian Borggreen, Europe director at the Computer and Communications Industry Association, a lobby group based in Washington and Brussels.

"There's a lot of uncertainty. The first question that all companies are asking the European Commission is: 'now what?"

A Yahoo spokesman said the decision "creates uncertainty" for companies.

The ruling immediately affects more than 4,000 companies, ranging from tech giant Google to cereal maker Kellogg. But its underlying rationale, that the US is an unsafe place for European citizens' personal data, could have a wider impact.

"The free movement of data across borders is the foundation of the global economy, facilitating everything from financial services and manufacturing to shipping and retail," said Christopher Padilla, vice-president of regulatory affairs at IBM.

Irish Independent

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