EU top court bins ‘Privacy Guard’ in Schrems privacy case

Sallie Anderson

Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems on Thursday invited the decision by the European Union’s Court of Justice (ECJ) in his case versus Facebook, which ruled that the EU- United States information transfer pact stops working to secure EU residents’ rights to privacy.

The EU- United States ‘Privacy Guard’ – a contract to share individual information for business functions in usage by more than 5,300 companies – was formerly criticised by privacy activists and MEPs on the civil liberties committee – who required its suspension in 2018.

  • Austrian privacy activist Schrems argued that Facebook made individual information moved to it offered to particular United States authorities – such as the NSA and FBI (Picture: Amy Osborne/ Getty Images).

” I am extremely pleased about the judgment. It appears the court has actually followed us in all elements. This is an overall blow to the Irish DPC [Data Protection Commission] and Facebook,” stated Schrems in a declaration.

“The US will have to seriously change their surveillance laws if US companies want to continue to play a major role in the EU market,” he added.

This judgment is the second big win for Schrems, who won a landmark case on information transfer in 2015 that resulted in the invalidation of the Privacy Shield’ s predecessor – the ‘Safe Harbour’ program.

After Safe Harbour was ditched by the EU’s top court, Facebook began utilizing so-called basic legal provisions to move the information to the United States.

At the end of 2015, Schrems released a grievance about Facebook to the Irish information security authorities, the website of Facebook’s European HQ, and required the suspension of Facebook’s usage of these provisions – declaring that these information transfers do not have enough data-protection safeguards.

After Irish information security authorities referred the matter to the nation’s High Court in 2016, they consequently referred it to the ECJ with 11 concerns that challenged EU- United States information transfers more typically.

Small print

While the enduring legal fight resulted in the invalidation EU- United States Privacy Guard on Thursday, the ECJ likewise identified that basic legal provisions are a legitimate tool for information transfers in between the EU and 3rd countries.

Nevertheless, the judgment likewise points out that any EU regulator – such as the Irish information security authorities – has the commitment to suspend or restrict information transfers which happen under basic legal provisions to 3rd countries where information defenses are not sufficient.

EU issues about information transfers installed following discoveries of United States mass monitoring made in 2013 by former National Security Company (NSA) representative Edward Snowden.

In his grievance, Schrems argued that Facebook made individual information moved to it offered to particular United States authorities, such as the NSA and FBI – which might perform mass monitoring on EU residents without a significant legal framework.

The ECJ judgment concluded on Thursday that non-US individuals can be possibly targeted by monitoring programs for foreign intelligence and the United States-EU Privacy Guard, for that reason, can not ensure a level of security comparable to that ensured by the EU information security guidelines (GDPR).

In Addition, the court kept in mind that EU residents do not enjoy the very same solutions as United States residents considering that the 4th Modification to the American constitution, utilized to challenge illegal monitoring, does not use to EU residents.

‘ Deeply dissatisfied’

The commission stated that they will engage in bilateral contact with their American equivalents to go over how to enhance and line up the information transfer arrangement to the judgment.

“I see this an opportunity for the EU to continue the dialogue with our American partners and as an opportunity to engage in solutions that reflect the values we share as democratic societies,” stated the EU commissioner for worths and openness Věra Jourová.

Following the statement of the judgment, United States secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross stated that he was “deeply disappointed” that the EU’s top court ditched an essential plan in between Europe and the United States.

” We want to have the ability to restrict the unfavorable effects to the $7.1 trillion [€6.2 trillion] transatlantic financial relationship that is so crucial to our particular residents, business, and federal governments,” he stated in a declaration.

“As our economies continue their post-Covid-19 recovery, it is critical that companies be able to transfer data without interruption, consistent with the strong protections offered by Privacy Shield,” Ross added.

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