PRISM scandal threatens EU-US ‘Safe Harbour’ agreement

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) could be tempted to invalidate “Safe Harbour” agreements on data retention between the United States and the European Union because of the PRISM spying scandal.

fter Directive 2006/24/EC on data retention, which the ECJ ruled to be invalid on April 8, 2014, will the Court  invalidate  “Safe Harbour” agreements ? The question arises when one reads the preliminary question that the High Court of Ireland referred to the ECJ on last August 26 (Case C-362/14).

The case at the heart of this referral was based on a complaint filed before the High Court by Mr. Max S, an Austrian national.

Mr. S was challenging the Irish Commissioner’s (the Irish data protection authority) refusal to investigate his complaint against the Irish subsidiary of the American company Facebook. Mr. S alleged that, given the revelations of the NSA’s monitoring activities under the PRISM program, “the rights and practices of which [the United States], it is claimed, do not contain adequate protections” for the data subject against state surveillance as regards data that are transferred there from Europe. Consequently, Mr. S asked the Commissioner to suspend data transfers to the United States based on “Safe Harbour” agreements since the protection of such data was not guarantee.  Indeed national data protection authorities are enable to suspend transfers “to an organisation” whose behavior may violate the “Safe Harbour” principles.

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Source: Euractive

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