Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) is convinced that allegations concerning the way it transfers EU user data to the US are “deeply flawed.” The company said that privacy protection policies are already being implemented.
US surveillance of EU data
Big tech companies have, in the recent past, come under scrutiny by the EU over the question of user data protection. The Irish Data Protection Commissioner is challenging the way Facebook protects EU user data from US surveillance. The issue of US surveillance of EU user data was revealed by former US intelligence contract, Edward Snowden. The issue caused such political outroar in the greater part of Europe.
A well-founded complaint
The Irish data regulator started scrutinizing Facebook’s handling of data after an Austrian law student come privacy activist; Max Schrems made a complaint about how Facebook handled his data in the US. The Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) is obliged to regulate Facebook because the social media company has its European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland. The DPC deemed the complaint “well-founded” after investigating the matter
Since the case involves EU data, it should be handled by CJEU (the Court of Justice of the European Union). DPC, therefore, is requesting the Irish High Court to refer the case there. Should the high court grant the request, the CJEU will decide whether to prohibit the use of Model Contracts. Model Contracts are companies’ workaround of transferring data outside of the EU.
The EU-US Privacy Shield Agreement is Facebook’s defense
But there is the EU-US Privacy Shield Agreement to consider. The agreement replaced the Safe Harbor agreement, which the CJEU found no longer fit. The current agreement limits not only the access but also collection of EU data stored on US servers. The agreement was signed in August 2016.
Facebook’s lawyer, Paul Gallagher, urges the Irish high court to look at the agreement. According to him, there is no “well-founded” concern when the agreement has not been considered. He argues that the DPC decision should not be considered as it has been overtaken by events- the decision came before the agreement. “The decision is deeply flawed,” he concluded.
It might be too early to go to the CJEU
Schrems and other privacy activist are advocating for the revising of Model Contract. They do not think of Europeans much room for redress. Schrems lawyer, James Doherty, does not believe that the DPC has enough grounds to refer the case to the CJEU. They need to do more investigations.
Facebook stock increased by $0.40 or 0.30 per share and close at $133.84.