It has been confirmed that the legal status of the US EU Safe Harbor Framework, in its current form, will be decided by the Court of Justice of the European Union on Tuesday, 6 October. A decision was not expected for several weeks, but the current negotiations on EU Data Protection draft Regulation, and data transfers to the US, may have speeded up the process.
In the meantime, the US mission to the European Union has issued a statement which says that the Advocate General’s (of the Court of Justice of the European Union) opinion from last week – see PL&B’s e-news of 24th September at (see our post) is wrong in inviting the court to conclude that the current Safe Harbor Framework is inadequate. They say that the US and the EU are working on strengthening the framework.
‘On both sides, there has been a strong desire to make sure that we improve the Framework, and these efforts should be encouraged,’ the US mission says.
‘Given the important privacy and trade benefits that Safe Harbor provides to EU and US citizens and businesses, we will continue to work closely with the European Commission to improve the Safe Harbor Framework. We hope that the final judgment of the European Court of Justice takes note of these efforts, inaccuracies in and far-reaching consequences of the Advocate General’s opinion, as well as the significant harm to the protection of individual rights and the free flow of information that would occur if it were to follow the Advocate General’s opinion.’
Jan Philipp Albrecht, the European Parliament’s rapporteur on the EU DP draft Regulation said: “The advocate general has [today] made clear that the transfer of EU citizens’ private data to the US by Facebook is at odds with EU law. This welcome finding must provoke an immediate response by the relevant authorities in Europe. The Irish data protection commissioner must immediately move to prevent any further data transfers to the US by Facebook, which operates under Irish jurisdiction. The finding also confirms the position of the European Parliament, which has already called for Safe Harbor to be suspended. It is unacceptable that the European Commission has ignored this demand for a year and a half. It is now time for the Commission to finally suspend Safe Harbor.”