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Facebook EU-US data transfer case kicks off in Dublin

Irish privacy watchdog wants the case to be referred to the European Union's top court.

By CBR Staff Writer

The Irish High Court has started hearing a case that challenges the data transfer mechanism used by Facebook and other technology companies.

The hearing is taking place in Ireland as the social media giant’s headquarters is located in the country.

Ireland’s data protection commissioner wants the court to refer the case to the European Union’s top court.

The commissioner wants the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to weigh the validity of Facebook’s “model contracts”, which are common legal framework being followed for the transfer of personal data outside the EU region, Reuters reported.

Michael Collins, a lawyer for the Irish Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon told the court that the commissioner had arrived at the view that certain complaints against model contracts are “well founded.”

Collins was quoted by the publication as saying: “If you share her doubts – it doesn’t mean you have to be finally satisfied – then you must make a reference to the European Court… The Commissioner’s concern is simply to get it right, not to advocate for any particular result.”

The CJEU and not a national court or the Data Protection Commissioner has the jurisdiction to determine the validity of a European Commission decision, Collins said.

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In 2013, Austrian lawyer Max Shrems filed a complaint alleging that Facebook’s transfer of his personal data to US was illegal.

In July last year, the European Commission adopted Privacy Shield, a new agreement governing data transfer across the Atlantic.

The agreement, which replaces the previous Safe Harbor agreement, was designed to address EU concerns over US government surveillance, places new restrictions on companies handling data and includes new US government assurances about how data will be used.

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