High court in Ireland freezes probe into Facebook’s EU-US data flows

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The Republic of Ireland’s High Court has temporarily frozen a probe by Facebook’s lead European Union regulator which threatened to stop the US social network giant’s transatlantic data flows, a court spokesman said.

Facebook had sought a judicial review of the Irish Data Protection Commission’s preliminary conclusion which the mechanism it used to transfer data in the European Union to the United States”cannot in practice be used.”

“A stay was put on the Section 11 order,” he added, referring to the Data Protection Commission sequence that threatened to obstruct the information flows. No date has been set for the issue to come back to the courtroom, ” he explained.

A Facebook spokeswoman welcomed the court verdict. “Businesses need clear, global rules, underpinned by the strong rule of law, to protect transatlantic data flows over the long term,” she said.

In seeking to derail the Irish regulator’s decision, Facebook has said the mechanism in question, the Standard Contractual Clause (SCC), had been deemed legal by the Court of Justice of the European Union in July.

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However, the July ruling also stated that under SCC’s, privacy watchdogs must suspend or prohibit transfers outside the EU if data security in other countries cannot be assured.

EU CONCERNS

The transatlantic argument stems from EU concerns the surveillance program at the US might not respect the privacy rights of European Union citizens when their personal data is delivered to the United States for industrial use.

Standard Contractual Clause are used by thousands of businesses to transfer Europeans’ data around the globe and a ban could result in widespread disruption to transatlantic information providers.

Max Schrems, the data privacy activist who is a party in the case, said that Facebook had argued it needed additional time to respond and it could be unfair that the Irish regulator was targeting Facebook and not other tech businesses.

A Data Protection Commission spokesman declined to comment.

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The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed this news article. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Conor Humphries. Editing by Toby Chopra and Carmel Crimmins.

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