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March-May 2020

EU court opinion finds EU-US data transfers lawful but raises questions over Privacy Shield

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has backed lawyer and privacy activist Max Schrems and Facebook in a legal opinion which found that the contractual agreements widely used by companies to share data between the European Union (EU) and the US are lawful. Advocate general Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe said the agreements, known as standard contractual clauses (SCCs), were valid under EU law as mechanisms for ensuring the privacy rights of EU citizens are protected when their data is transferred overseas. But he raised questions over the lawfulness of the EU-US Privacy Shield agreement on data protection in the light of evidence that the US runs bulk surveillance programmes which breach European privacy laws and fail to give European citizens adequate rights of redress if their data is wrongly intercepted. The case originates in 2013, when Schrems complained to the Data Protection Commission Ireland that Facebook was providing “mass access” to data on its European customers to the US intelligence agencies, in breach of European ...

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