The social media giant was unable to block an offer that could ban it from sending data about its 410 million European users to the United States.
Ireland’s data regulator may resume investigation that could trigger a ban on transatlantic Facebook data transfers, the high court ruled on Friday, raising the possibility of a shutdown that the company warns would have a devastating impact in your business.
The case stems from European Union concerns that U.S. government surveillance may not respect the privacy rights of EU citizens when their personal data is sent to the U.S. for commercial use.
The Data Protection Commission (DPC) of the Republic of Ireland, Facebook’s main regulator in the EU, launched an investigation in August and issued an interim order that the main mechanism used by Facebook to transfer data of EU users in the US “in practice can not be used”.
Facebook had challenged both the investigation and the draft decision (PDD), saying they threatened “devastating” and “irreversible” consequences for its business, which relies on processing user data to run specific online ads. .
The high court dismissed the challenge on Friday.
“I reject all the relief requested by the FBI [Facebook Ireland] and dismiss the claims he made in the proceeding, “Judge David Barniville said in a sentence that lasted nearly 200 pages.
“The FBI has not established any basis for challenging the DPC or PDD’s decision or the procedures for the investigation adopted by the DPC,” the ruling said.
While the decision does not trigger an immediate halt to data flows, Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems, who forced the Irish data regulator to take action in a series of legal actions over the past eight years, said she believed the decision made her inevitable.
“After eight years, the DPC is forced to stop Facebook-US data transfers from Facebook, probably before the summer,” he said.
A Facebook spokesman said the company hoped to defend its compliance with EU data rules, as the Irish regulator’s interim order “could harm not only Facebook but also users and other companies”.
If the Irish data regulator enforces the provisional order, it would put an end to the privileged access that US companies have to Europe’s personal data and put it on the same level as companies in other countries outside the bloc. .
The mechanism questioned by the Irish regulator, the standard contract clause (SCC), was considered valid by the European Court of Justice in a July decision.
But the Court of Justice also ruled that under SCCs, privacy watchdogs should suspend or ban transfers outside the EU if data protection in other countries cannot be guaranteed.
A Facebook lawyer in December told the High Court that the Irish regulator’s draft decision, if implemented, would “have devastating consequences” for Facebook’s business, affecting 410 million active Facebook users in Europe, hitting political groups and undermining freedom of expression.
Irish Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon said in February that companies could face, more broadly, a massive disruption to transatlantic data flows as a result of the Court of Justice’s decision. European.
Dixon’s office welcomed the decision Friday, but declined to comment.