Data transfer: European justice goes in the direction of Facebook - The360 Technology

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  • Thursday, December 26, 2019

    Data transfer: European justice goes in the direction of Facebook

    Data transfer: European justice goes in the direction of Facebook

    Activist Maximilian Schrems contested the legality of the transfer of personal data between Europe and the United States.

    End of the legal saga between the Austrian Maximilian Schrems, activist defender of digital privacy, and the Facebook giant for seven years. "Sharing Facebook's data on its European users with the United States is legal and provides sufficient protection," said the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice. The high judge believes that the tools used by companies to transfer data abroad are legal. Traditionally, the court follows - four times out of five - the advice of the Advocate General. The judges should therefore rule in favor of Facebook. The final judgment will be made in a few months, according to Reuters.

    Dismantled system

    Justice was once again looking into the transfer of personal data from Europeans to the United States. Hundreds of thousands of companies transfer data abroad using special clauses, "transfer tools", framed by a collaborative system between the EU and the United States. This decision was eagerly awaited since July 9, the date on which the judges began examining the case, because if the court ruled on the illegality of these measures, then these companies would violate the GDPR. And the entire financial ecosystem based on the collection and sharing of data on which Facebook is based, would be completely upset.

    This case is the continuation and end of a long legal series. The first season of this dispute begins with the procedure initiated by Maximilian Schrems, an Austrian student and Facebook user. On October 6, 2015, he obtained the invalidation of the "Safe Harbor" - old system - which framed the transfer of data from European internet users to the United States, before the Court of Justice of the European Union - the highest judicial body Europe.

    By having the data system dismantled by justice, Maximilian Schrems had succeeded in setting himself up against the omnipotence of the multinational. The crux of his war lies in the confidentiality and sharing of data from Europe to the United States. The "Safe Harbor" was a set of agreements allowing several American companies (dependent on the US Department of Commerce) to transfer personal data from the EEA (European Economic Area) to the United States. The Court considered that the United States did not offer an optimal level of protection, since the public authorities could access it without formalities. Or a principle that did not comply with the European directive on the protection of personal data.

    Since then, a working group of the European Commission and the American government had reached a political agreement. The commission then adopted a system little different from the first, called "Privacy Shield", which included several clauses in favor of Facebook. It was without counting on Maximilian Schrems' intact ambition to bring down this "protective shield" again, which, according to him, still did not offer satisfactory protection. But the Court should, this time, agree with Facebook. The company "looks forward to the final decision," according to a spokesman for the American giant.

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