Friday 14 May 2021
Defeat in irish court
Data blockage possible on Facebook
The decision could have far-reaching consequences for Facebook: the group, which has its European headquarters in Ireland, faces a legal defeat against the local data protection authority. It may prohibit the transmission of personal user data from the European Union to the United States.
Facebook has suffered a legal defeat in Ireland that could soon prevent data transfer from the European Union to the United States. The Irish Supreme Court rejected the Tech Giants’ request to block an Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) investigation into data transfers. Judge David Barniwill said he is rejecting any claim by Facebook Ireland. In September, the court initially approved a temporary blockade of the investigation.
The Data Protection Commission has welcomed the court’s decision. The DPC can now prohibit the transmission of personal data from Facebook users from the European Union to the United States – and thus have a decisive impact on Facebook’s business model. Facebook has its European headquarters in Ireland. It is therefore up to the Irish Data Protection Authority to prosecute any violation of EU rules by the company.
The Irish authority responded to a decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) last July with an investigation, which Facebook legally challenges. Five years after the termination of the EU data protection agreement “Safe Harbor” with the United States, the latter had also declared the successor agreement “Privacy Shield” invalid. In theory, the transfer of data into the United States was possible for companies based on so-called standard contractual clauses because, in the ECJ’s opinion, adequate protective mechanisms exist. However, the Irish Data Protection Agency believed that these clauses may not even be legal and launched an investigation on 28 August.
Immediate process for update
Austrian Max Schrems, who has been battling a legal dispute with Facebook for years, said on Twitter that the DPC could now stop the transmission of Facebook data from the European Union to the United States “within two months”. Despite the request, no comments were initially made on behalf of Facebook speakers.
On Tuesday itself, the Hamburg Data Security Authority Facebook banned the processing of user data from its messenger service WhatsApp for its own purposes. The Hamburg Data Security Authority announced that the ban would be issued for three months under immediate procedure. Background on WhatsApp is a controversial update, for which users must agree by 15 May.
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