Facebook Inc (FB) Eagerly Waits For ECJ Ruling on the Future of Safe Harbor
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) find itself in the court docket this week as the European Court of Justice sits to decide whether the social network and other companies can continue to transfer personal information to the U.S where privacy protections laws are seen to be a little bit weak. The lawsuit came into being after an Australian student, Max Schrems, alleged that the social network continues to flout privacy considerations in its pursuit of commercial success.
The student alleges that that any personal data processed by Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) remains unprotected as soon as it is transferred to the U.S where privacy issues continue to be a point of concern. Schrems had made the complaint to the Irish data protection commissioner who said his office could not investigate the matter as it was covered under an EU-US legal convention commonly referred to as Safe Harbor.
He was forced to raise the matter in the High Court, which referred him to the European Court of Justice. Under the European data protection law, companies are allowed to transfer consumer data out of the EU, to countries that have adequate level of privacy protection, which the U.S does not meet the threshold.
Safe Harbor Criticism
Safe Harbor has been the subject of substantial criticism especially on the fact that the U.S government can use its agencies such as the NSA to access EU citizen’s data for the purposes of defense intelligence. A decision on this matter could have serious ramifications on the relationship between the U.S and the European Union.
Should the court rule in favor of Mr. Schrems, companies like Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) may be forced to enter into new arrangements on how they handle European citizen’s data. The case is already crowd-funded with 2,000 donors having raised 60,000. Irish participants enjoined in the case include barristers Noel Travers and Paul O’shea as well as Solicitors firm Ahern Rudden Solicitors.
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