Facebook loses EU court battle
Facebook hit a snag in their EU privacy court case, and it looks like it has come to bite them on the arse. The EU Court of Justice has said that the transfer of European Facebook users' data over to America could well be suspended.
The court ruled that the key agreement which allows US companies to transfer EU users' data to the USA is invalid, because "that country does not afford an adequate level of protection." Basically, the EU don't think American data protection laws are up to much.
The thing that has been allowing the transfer of personal data is called the Safe Harbour agreement, but that is now under threat. Basically, it has been allowing US intelligence agencies to track Europeans, and it won't only be Facebook that fall foul of this - a lot of tech companies enjoy the fruits of this particular agreement.
"American companies are going to have to restructure how they manage, store and use data in Europe and this take a lot of time and money," says Mike Weston, CEO of data science consultancy Profusion.
Max Schrems launched the legal challenge regarding Safe Harbour after Edward Snowden dropped his revelations all over the place, about the US National Security Agency (NSA)'s Prism surveillance system, which basically allows spies to look at everyone's personal data from all over the globe.
The ruling said: "The national security, public interest and law enforcement requirements of the United States prevail over the Safe Harbour scheme, so that United States undertakings are bound to disregard, without limitation, the protective rules laid down by that scheme where they conflict with such requirements."
"The United States safe harbour scheme thus enables interference, by United States public authorities, with the fundamental rights of persons, and the Commission decision does not refer either to the existence, in the United States, of rules intended to limit any such interference or to the existence of effective legal protection against the interference."
"The Court adds that legislation permitting the public authorities to have access on a generalised basis to the content of electronic communications must be regarded as compromising the essence of the fundamental right to respect for private life."