Max Schrems — Getty Images
A privacy campaigner has scored a legal victory that could bolster his attempts to prevent Facebook from being able to pass EU citizens’ data to the US authorities.
An opinion issued by the European Court of Justice says that current data-sharing rules between the 28-nation bloc and the US are “invalid”.
The decision could affect other tech firms’ abilities to send Europeans’ information to US data centres.
Although the EU’s highest court tends to follow the opinions of its legal adviser, the 15 judges involved have yet to issue a conclusive ruling of their own on the matter.
Even so, Max Schrems – the activist who prompted the case – suggests there could be far-reaching consequences.
“Companies that participate in US mass surveillance and provide, for example, cloud services within the EU and rely on data centres in the US may now have to invest in secure data centres within the European Union,” he said…”
The origins of Mr Schrems’ dispute with Facebook can be traced back to whistleblower Edward Snowden’s leaks about US cyberspies’ activities.
In 2013, Snowden released details about a surveillance scheme operated by the NSA called Prism, which provided officials with ways to scrutinise data held by US tech firms about Europeans and other foreign citizens.
Mr Schrems alleged that, in light of the revelations, EU citizens had no protection against US surveillance efforts once their data had been transferred.
He targeted Facebook in particular because of the wide range of data it gathered and the number of people using it.
However, when he took the case to Ireland – where Facebook’s European headquarters are based – it was initially rejected.
The Irish data watchdog said the Safe Harbour agreement between the US and EU prevented it from intervening…
The EU forbids the transfer of personal data to other parts of the world that do not provide “adequate” privacy protections.
RTFA for lots more detail. Living in the belly of a lying beast has to make me smile – or rant – every time our government accuses anyone else on the planet of cyber spying. No other nation has invested so much in the cause of technology designed for the sole purpose of spying on every individual on this wee blue marble in the Milky Way galaxy.