The Irish Supreme Court has rejected Facebook’s request not to refer the ongoing data transfer case to the Court of Justice. The EU Court will thereby consider the lawfulness of exchanging data from EU citizens to the US.
Reuters reports that the Irish Supreme Court has rejected Facebook’s request and that the case will go to the European Court of Justice on July 9. The judges of the highest EU Court will then consider the legal sustainability of the data transfer deals, whereby personal data of EU citizens are transferred to the US and vice versa.
The case revolves around the so-called model agreements, or standard contractual clauses . This is an instrument approved by the EU; they are, in fact, individual contracts that allow US companies to transfer data from EU citizens to the US for storing there. If this instrument can no longer pass through the bracket after a possible negative judgment of the Court of Justice, then this may have the necessary consequences for providers of cloud services, such as Amazon with AWS. Quite a few companies have agreed these clauses with cloud providers, so that services such as AWS or Azure may process personal data. If a line were to go through that, many companies would have to find an alternative provider to host their infrastructure.
The case is in Ireland because Facebook’s headquarters are located outside of the US in Ireland. Thus the Irish privacy watchdog DPA filed a case. In this context it is also indirectly about the Privacy Shield agreement. Two years ago, the EU Court declared Safe Harbor invalid following a lawsuit filed by Austrian Max Schrems. Privacy Shield became the successor to Safe Harbor and in the case referred to the EU Court it is not directly about Privacy Shield, but a negative opinion on the model agreements can also have consequences for Privacy Shield. Companies are making less and less use of Privacy Shield and the certification process, because the declaration of invalidity of Safe Harbor shows that this method can disappear in one go.
The rejection of the Supreme Court comes as no surprise, since the lower Irish High Court already rejected Facebook’s request earlier. The examining judge then stated that the refusal is justified, so that the Court of Justice can look at it as quickly as possible. According to the judge, millions of EU citizens are potentially seriously harmed in their interests due to the delay. She found that Facebook deliberately tries to delay the case.