#AceNewsServices – DUBLIN – June 18 – An Irish judge on Wednesday rejected an attempt by campaigners to force an investigation into Facebook’s alleged sharing of data from EU users with the U.S. National Security Agency.
High Court Justice Gerard Hogan, who has jurisdiction because Facebook’s European headquarters are based in Dublin, upheld an earlier decision by the country’s data protection commissioner to refuse to investigate.
Ahead of the hearing, the campaign group europe-v-facebook indicated it planned to appeal any such decision.
(IrishExaminer) 30 April 2014 – The data protection commissioner was wrong to refuse to investigate a complaint that the Irish arm of Facebook could not permit the mass transfer of personal data to US intelligence services, it has been claimed.
Max Schrems, an Austrian law student behind a data privacy campaign group called Europe v Facebook, has brought a High Court challenge claiming Billy Hawkes wrongly interpreted and applied the law governing the mass transfer of personal data of Facebook users to the US National Security Agency when he rejected his complaint.
He is asking Mr Justice Gerard Hogan to quash that decision and refer it back to Mr Hawkes for reconsideration. He says the commissioner’s decision was irrational and wants a preliminary reference on the matter to be made to the European Court of Justice.
The commissioner, who found Facebook had acted within the terms of the EU-US data-sharing agreement called Safe Harbour, is opposing his action.
According to Safe Harbour
The European Commission’s Directive on Data Protection went into effect in October of 1998, and would prohibit the transfer of personal data to non-European Union countries that do not meet the European Union (EU) “adequacy” standard for privacy protection. While the United States and the EU share the goal of enhancing privacy protection for their citizens, the United States takes a different approach to privacy from that taken by the EU.
In order to bridge these differences in approach and provide a streamlined means for U.S. organizations to comply with the Directive, the U.S. Department of Commerce in consultation with the European Commission developed a “Safe Harbor” framework and this website to provide the information an organization would need to evaluate – and then join – the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor program.
The U.S. Department of Commerce in consultation with the Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner of Switzerland developed a separate “Safe Harbor” framework to bridge the differences between the two countries’ approaches to privacy and provide a streamlined means for U.S. organizations to comply with Swiss data protection law.
This website also provides the information an organization would need to evaluate – and then join – the U.S.-Swiss Safe Harbor program.
In the next fortnight the Irish data protection commissioner will launch a wide-ranging privacy audit of the social network after complaints about how Facebook tracks its users on-line.
The Irish regulator will conduct the audit on behalf of authorities in 27 European states, including the UK.
The commissioner expects to complete the report before the end of the year, a spokeswoman for the regulator said.
- EU Progress on Data Protection: Speaking in Luxembourg this week, EU Commissioner Viviane Reding saidthat the EU Council moved forward two key data protection goals in 2014.
- First, there is “agreement on the rules that govern data transfers to third countries.” Second, “Ministers agreed on the territorial scope of the data protection regulation.
- In simple words: EU data protection law will apply to non-European companies if they do business on our territory.” Ms. Reding said the EU is on track to ensure “the completion of the Digital Single Market by 2015.
- For more information, see EPIC – EU Data Protection Directive, EPIC – Council of Europe Privacy Convention and EPIC – “23 US NGOs Support EU Data Protection Regulation.” (Jun. 9, 2014)