EU Data Ruling Pulls ‘Rug Under The Feet’ Of US Tech Companies

‘Facebook, like many thousands of European companies, relies on a number of the methods prescribed by EU law to legally transfer data to the U.S. from Europe, aside from Safe Harbour.


The case is the first of its kind and could have a huge effect on how multinational companies handle European citizens’ data.

Aside from businesses, social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter are now open to scrutiny from individual EU countries’ data regulators and could be forced to host data of European users in Europe.

See Wednesday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

Yves Bot, an advocate general at the court, had said the agreement should be ditched because “mass, indiscriminate surveillance” by the us suggests that, when Europeans’ data flows there, it isn’t sufficiently protected. It said that the “safe harbour” deal enables interference by USA authorities with fundamental rights and contains no reference either to US rules to limit any such interference or to effective legal protection against it.

“If at the conclusion of that investigation it decides that the transfer of data from Facebook Ireland to Facebook US does not offer the necessary level of data protection then it should suspend the Safe Harbour agreement”.

In essence this means that the Irish Data Commissioner must now investigate the complaint of Mr Schrems.

Austrian Max Schrems (left) arrives with his lawyer Herwig Hofmann (right) before a verdict at the European Court of Justice (SCJ) in Luxembourg, on October 6, 2015. “It clarifies that mass surveillance violates our fundamental rights”.

The European Union forbids personal data from being transferred to and processed in parts of the world that do not provide adequate privacy protections. The company has been the subject of requests from U.S. authorities to share information stored on servers in the EU.

The ruling may have massive effects on the global landscape of data protection and user privacy regulations, with the European Union as the new center of gravity in future.

“Furthermore, national security, public interest and law enforcement requirements of the United States prevail over the safe harbour scheme, so that United States undertakings are bound to disregard, without limitation, the protective rules laid down by that scheme where they conflict with such requirements”.

Penny Pritzker, US Secretary of Commerce, said that this decision would put a risk to the thriving digital economy of trans-Atlantic. Whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the existence of the programme in June 2013.


Sophie In’t Veld, a leading Liberal lawmaker in the European Parliament, welcomed the ruling and called the “safe harbour” decision “a travesty of legality”.

The European Court of Justice. Pic sprklg- Quartier Européen Nord Kirchberg