European Advocate General: transfer of EU user data violates privacy laws

[JURIST] The advocate general of the European Court of Justice [official website] proclaimed[opinion; press release, PDF] on Wednesday that the copious amount of EU user data transferred to the US by various technology companies violates EU’s data protection and rights to privacy laws. The Luxembourg court’s advocate general Yves Bot suggested that the court do away with the “Safe Harbor” rules [backgrounder] that have spurred controversy in the wake of Edward Snowden’s [BBC backgrounder] whistleblower situation from last year. US technology behemoths like Twitter, Facebook and Uber already have a huge presence in Europe so the amount of data being exchanged between the two constituencies is only increasing. The advocate general critiqued the commission for not uncovering how the Safe Harbor provisions were developed and for allowing data transfers to continue. The data transfers of EU citizen data to US mass surveillance systems goes against the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights [official website]. The advocate general further exclaimed that the privileged status enjoyed by US companies should be abolished under the Safe Harbor policy. There are several pending cases, including one involving Max Schrems [BBC backgrounder] that may have a significant impact on EU-US diplomatic and trade relations.

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Camilla Wood

UK based Legal Aid Lawyer

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