In a response to the Austrian student group Europe-v-facebook’s request to investigate into the allegations made last year that the US National Security Agency used web companies to obtain the private data of European users, the Irish high court has asked the EU top court to review the Safe Harbour deal.
The court has asked for clarification of whether or not the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights has room for a Safe Harbour deal allowing internet companies to transport personal data of European citizens to NSA.
The Austrian lobby group was founded after the US Intelligence contractor Edward Snowden revealed last year about the NSA using web companies including Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Apple to obtain users’ information for Prism, an electronic surveillance program run by the NSA.
Its founder Max Schrems said in a statement, “The whole Prism, NSA spying thing is thereby in front of the highest court in Europe, which is going to be very interesting.”
With the Safe Harbour deal letting companies to transport customer data to the NSA, the Irish court will lose the chance to continue investigating the case if the EU rules that the deal is compatible with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Rob Corbet, Technology and Innovation Head, Arthur Cox law firm, Dublin said in a statement “If Safe Harbour were to come falling down, that would create an immediate issue for the thousands of multinationals who have self-certified with that system.”
He also added that he thinks that the US and Europe will create a political agreement on data transfers before the ECJ ruling is pronounced.
Conversely, countries in the European Union are trying to establish a law that will prevent web companies from transporting personal data of their users to the US without consent from the users, with provisions for levying huge fines when it is breached.