JUL 14, 2020 | US | EUROPEAN UNION
EU Top Court to Decide on EU-US Data-Transfer Tools
Bloomberg, July 14, 2020
By Stephanie Bodoni
At issue are so-called Standard Contractual Clauses, and parts of the EU-US Privacy Shield, the trans-Atlantic data transfer pact adopted in 2016 to replace a previous accord that was torpedoed by Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems. The controversy stretches back to 2013, when former contractor Edward Snowden exposed the extent of spying by the US National Security Agency.
This time around, Schrems isn’t questioning the validity of the transfer clauses, but mainly takes issue with how regulators protect EU citizens’ data. It’s a “systemic” problem, he told EU judges in a court hearing.
And while this week’s case initially focused on Facebook and how its main privacy regulator in Europe -- the Irish Data Protection Commission -- acts to defend the interests of users, industry groups say the impact could resonate far wider than the US social network.
“Many businesses -- especially bigger companies -- have started using more than one legal mechanism to transfer data to their customers and business partners,” adopting a “belt and suspenders” approach that relies on both tools, said Kate Goodloe, director of policy at the Business Software Alliance in Washington.
A ruling against both mechanisms would leave them “without much else,” she said.
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