Facebook data transfers to be examined by EU court, Irish judge rules

Max Schrems is leading a group called Europe vs. Facebook to force the social network to comply with EU data protection law. (credit: Europe vs. Facebook)

The Irish High Court has formally asked the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to figure out whether it's legal under European law for Facebook to routinely transfer user data to the United States. The referral to the court was published Thursday, and Facebook has until the end of the month to respond to the Irish court.

If the CJEU rules against Facebook, it could put a slew of American tech giants on notice and throw what is generally a smooth and orderly process into chaos. Right now, European Twitter, Google, and Facebook users have their data captured in their home countries but processed and/or stored by the American parent companies.

As part of a five-year legal battle involving an Austrian privacy activist, Max Schrems, the CJEU is now being asked to determine whether the current set of rules that govern those transfers, known as "Privacy Shield," are adequate. The case is being heard in Ireland as it involves Facebook Ireland, which keeps all non-American and non-Canadian data is funneled through.

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