Facebook’s transfer of data belonging to European citizens to the United States will be examined by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Facebook lost a bid for the landmark case to be referred to the ECJ, after the Irish Supreme Court ruled on Friday backed a ruling made by the Irish High Court in May 2018.

Facebook has for years now been consistently trying to stop the case reaching the ECJ, which was brought against Facebook by Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems.

High court

Facebook’s legal manoeuvres began after the Irish data protection watchdog in 2016 decided to refer the social networking giant’s data transfer practices to the US, to the ECJ.

It should be remembered that the ECJ in 2015 suspended the Safe Harbour agreement that allowed data-sharing between the EU and the US.

It had ruled against the long-standing agreement as it felt it no longer sufficiently protected European information against US surveillance, in light of the Edward Snowden whistleblowing revelations about the scale of US snooping.

The Irish probe began in 2015 and Ireland was chosen to lead Europe’s response to the court decision as Facebook’s EU headquarters is in Dublin.

This fact prompted Austrian lawyer Max Schrems to bring his data privacy case against Facebook to the Irish data protection watchdog.

In his complaint, Schrems argued that the Edward Snowden disclosures showed there is no effective data protection regime in the United States.

Facebook for its part has argued that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules make the case irrelevant.

Supreme court

But now the Irish Supreme Court has said it would not overturn any aspect the High court ruling made last year, Reuters reported.

“Facebook likely again invested millions to stop this case from progressing. It is good to see that the Supreme Court has not followed,” Schrems reportedly said in a statement.

Facebook will be concerned at this development, as will the numerous companies that transfer data across the Atlantic, for mundane things such as credit card transactions, browser searches, and other databases of data.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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