asks EU to look at data rules in wake of Facebook
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[June 18, 2014]
By Sarah O'Connor
DUBLIN (Reuters) -
Ireland's High Court on Wednesday asked the European
Court of Justice (ECJ) to review European Union data
protection rules in light of allegations that Facebook
shared data from EU users with the U.S. National
But it said it would not be able to force the country's data
protection commissioner, Facebook's regulator in Europe, to
investigate the allegations.
Austrian student group europe-v-facebook, had demanded an
investigation into allegations that companies including Apple and
Facebook help the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) harvest email
and other private data from European citizens.
Fugitive U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden last year
revealed that the NSA used Web companies including Apple, Google,
Facebook and Microsoft to gather user data as part of a mass
electronic surveillance programme known as Prism.
The Irish data watchdog - the effective supervisor of the EU
activities of some of the biggest U.S. Internet companies, which
have their European headquarters in Ireland - had said in July there
were no grounds for such an investigation.
High Court Justice Gerard Hogan, who has jurisdiction because
Facebook's European headquarters are based in Dublin, said he could
not force a probe, but said the application raised questions about
whether EU data rules were compatible with the EU Charter of
"It is clear that the present application for judicial review must
fail... because the European commission has already decided that the
U.S. provides an adequate level of data protection," he said.
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But he asked the European Court of Justice to clarify whether the
main European rulings on data protection cooperation with the United
States -- the 1995 EU data protection directive and the 2000
European Commission decision on the Safe Harbour principles -- were
compatible with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
"The critical issue which arises is whether the proper
interpretation of the 1995 directive and the 2000 Commission
decision should be re-evaluated in the light of the subsequent entry
into force of article 8 of the EU charter," Hogan said.
(Reporting by Sarah O'Connor; Writing by Conor Humphries; Editing by
Pravin Char and Elaine Hardcastle)
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