Max Schrems

More Trouble for Facebook in European Courts

Edward Snowden’s surveillance revelations are continuing to jeopardize US tech firms’ European operations. The European Union’s top court will soon decide whether Facebook will be allowed to continue sending the personal data of its European users to its US data centers. The final decision is expected to have major implications for all of the US-based tech giants. The ruling was triggered by a case brought against Facebook several years ago by Austrian law student Maximillian Schrems, who was concerned about the privacy of his personal information on the social media site. When Snowden revealed that the NSA was routinely intercepting data from social media, Schrems took action against the agency that regulated data in Ireland, where Facebook’s European operations are headquartered, arguing that his privacy should have been safeguarded against this kind of surveillance. With the help of crowdfunding, he took the case to court, maintaining that EU companies should not be able to transfer data to the US under “safe harbor” protections. If the High Court rules in his favor, Facebook and other tech giants may have to stop collecting personal data of its European users in US databases. —TV

Photo: Manfred Werner