Facebook’s challenge to a High Court ruling that raises serious concerns about data transfers between Europe and the US is more about appearance than

Facebook’s challenge to a High Court ruling that raises serious concerns about data transfers between Europe and the US is more about appearance than facts, lawyers for the Irish Data Protection Commission told Dublin's Supreme Court


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Facebook is challenging a High Court judgement, which found the data of EU citizens was at risk of interception by US intelligence services because it is more concerned about its appearance than its contents, Ireland’s most senior court heard yesterday.

The social media company is opposing a High Court decision which refers 11 questions raising questions about the legality of data transfers between Europe and the US, to the European Court of Justice (CJEU).

Michael Collins SC, acting for the Irish data protection commissioner, Helen Dixon, told five Supreme Court judges Facebook was attempting to head off potential findings by the CJEU that data transfers between the EU and the US, did not meet EU law.

“The whole reason for Facebook being here is that the whole judgement will be referred to the European Court, and they don’t want the court to make a binding decision,” he said.

He was speaking on the second day of a three-day hearing at Dublin’s Supreme Court, the latest hearing in a long-running legal battle with Austrian lawyer Max Schrems.

Schrems has accused Facebook of sharing his personal data, along with that of other Facebook users, with the US National Security Agency (NSA), in breach of European law.  

Mass and indiscriminate surveillance
Facebook said on 21 January it objected to findings of fact in the judgment made by judge Caroline Costello, including a finding that the US intelligence services are engaged in “mass and indiscriminate surveillance”.

The social media company argues the High Court did take into account evidence from Facebook’s expert witnesses that there were adequate safeguards in place in the US to protect the privacy of European citizens’ data, Collins told the judges.

But he told the Supreme Court the High Court had heard extensive evidence from Facebook’s expert witnesses on the importance of US intelligence gathering, and on the economic importance of sharing between the EU and US.
“When you are dealing with a case like this, no judgement can cover all of the evidence,” he said. “The argument is that she was not aware of this, that there was some deficiency.

“It is difficult to understand...

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