The European Court of Justice could on Thursday pause the transfer of private data between the European Union and the United States in a case involving Facebook.
The court is to rule in a case initiated by Austrian privacy activist Maximilian Schrems.
He complained to Irish authorities that his Facebook data, which were compiled by Facebook Ireland, were transferred to its United States branch without his permission.
Schrems argues that because American intelligence agencies can access Facebook users’ private data, EU citizens’ data are not sufficiently protected and that there is no means of appeal for this transfer.
Following the complaint, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner filed a case before the High Court of Ireland for a referral to the European Court of Justice.
The court asked the ECJ whether certain European Commission decisions on contractual clauses for data transmission are in line with EU data protection rules.
This also applies to other countries than the United States
The court’s decision on Thursday could also have implications for other companies, such as Google, Microsoft and Apple, and how they store and process data.
Instead of declaring the rules invalid, the court could also order the EU Commission to adjust them to better protect citizens’ data.
EU top lawyer Henrik Saugmandsgaard Oe has argued that the European Commission’s contractual clauses in general were valid.
Data protection agencies would have to stop their transfer, however, if data was not sufficiently protected, he said.
The ECJ judges often follow their top lawyers’ opinions, but are not bound to do so.
Edited By: Halima Sheji/Ali Baba-Inuwa (NAN)
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