Thursday, October 05, 2017

OpenStack 10/06/2017 (a.m.)

  • Tags: surveillance state, NSA, Irish_High_Court, EU, data-privacy, litigation, ECJ

    • The five-week court hearing in what is a complex case delving into detail on US surveillance operations took place in February. The court issued its ruling today.

      The 153-page ruling starts by noting “this is an unusual case”, before going into a detailed discussion of the arguments and concluding that the DPC’s concerns about the validity of SCCs should be referred to the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling.

      Schrems is also the man responsible for bringing, in 2013, a legal challenge that ultimately struck down Safe Harbor — the legal mechanism that had oiled the pipe for EU-US personal data flows for fifteen years before the ECJ ruled it to be invalid in October 2015.

      Schrems’ argument had centered on U.S. government mass surveillance programs, as disclosed via the Snowden leaks, being incompatible with fundamental European privacy rights. After the ECJ struck down Safe Harbor he then sought to apply the same arguments against Facebook’s use of SCCs — returning to Ireland to make the complaint as that’s where the company has its European HQ.

      It’s worth noting that the European Commission has since replaced Safe Harbor with a new (and it claims more robust) data transfer mechanism, called the EU-US Privacy Shield — whi

    • In a written statement on the ruling Schrems added: “I welcome the judgement by the Irish High Court. It is important that a neutral Court outside of the US has summarized the facts on US surveillance in a judgement, after diving through more than 45,000 pages of documents in a five week hearing.
    • Making a video statement outside court in Dublin today, Schrems said the Irish court had dismissed Facebook’s argument that the US government does not undertake any surveillance.
    • Schrems’ Safe Harbor challenge also started in the Irish Court before being ultimately referred to the ECJ. So there’s more than a little legal deja vu here, especially given the latest development in the case.

      In its ruling on the SCC issue, the Irish Court noted that a US ombudsperson position created under Privacy Shield to handle EU citizens complaints about companies’ handling of their data is not enough to overcome what it described as “well founded concerns” raised by the DPC regarding the adequacy of the protections for EU citizens data.

    • On Facebook, he also said: “In simple terms, US law requires Facebook to help the NSA with mass surveillance and EU law prohibits just that. As Facebook is subject to both jurisdictions, they got themselves in a legal dilemma that they cannot possibly solve in the long run.”
    • While Schrems’ original complaint pertained to Facebook, the Irish DPC’s position means many more companies that use the mechanism could face disruption if SCCs are ultimately invalidated as a result of the legal challenge to their validity.

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