Wednesday

26th Sep 2018

Privacy activists mount court challenge to EU-US data pact

  • EU US Privacy Shield was launched in July (Photo: nolifebeforecoffee)

An EU data transfer agreement with the US is facing a legal challenge over privacy issues at the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Privacy advocacy group Digital Rights Ireland lodged the challenge in September at the lower General Court at the ECJ in a move likely to cast further doubts over a pact launched just two months ago.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The group refused to comment on the case, and court documents revealed little of the substance, but unnamed sources told Reuters news agency that it concerned the new EU-US Privacy Shield agreement.

The deal replaces a 15-year-old agreement that had been invalidated by the same Luxembourg-based court only last year. Some 4,000 US firms had signed up to the old pact, known as Safe Harbour.

A European Commission spokesperson told Reuters that it was "convinced that the Privacy Shield will live up to the requirements set out by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which has been the basis for the negotiations".

Privacy Shield underpins some €230 billion in cross-border trade in digital services. It is also designed to ensure rights of EU citizens are respected whenever their data is transferred to firms based in the United States.

The commission says the latest agreement is more transparent, better monitored, and allows EU nationals to file complaints with greater ease. US companies that sign up to the self-certifying agreement promise not to abuse the data.

US national security access

But outstanding issues over US national security access and bulk collection of data remain in Privacy Shield despite "written commitments and assurances" by US authorities.

Earlier this month Reuters revealed that Yahoo had received US government orders under a foreign spy law in 2015 to secretly scan emails belonging to hundreds of millions of users.

Those scans were being conducted when the EU commission and US authorities were still in talks on US national security access for the new data transfer pact.

Yahoo described the Reuters report as "misleading". The commission said Yahoo had not signed up to Privacy Shield.

Social media giant Facebook signed up to Privacy Shield earlier this month.

It was the initial legal challenge by Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems against Facebook's Dublin-based headquarters tha helped trigger the demise of Privacy Shield's predecessor Safe Harbour.

Earlier this year he told reporters Privacy Shield wouldn't survive a legal challenge at the ECJ.

“The European Commission is jumping from one ice-floe to another. It knows it will sink sooner or later, but keeps jumping in the meantime," he said.

EU trying to salvage US deal on data privacy

Privacy safeguards for EU citizens' personal data that is sent to the United States remains exposed to abuse, due to the lack of oversight and the shift towards increased surveillance under president Trump.

Investigation

Cyprus: Russia's EU weak link?

Five years and €10bn after its EU bailout, Cyprus is a weak link in Europe's banking system - amid renewed fears on Russia money-laundering.

News in Brief

  1. UN chief: World suffering from 'trust deficit disorder'
  2. Stalemate in Sweden as parliament ousts prime minister
  3. Migrant rescue ship heading to French port
  4. EU angry at British tabloids on Brexit
  5. UK to allow EU flights in no-deal Brexit
  6. Greek reporters arrested after story on 'mishandled' EU funds
  7. Austrian minister urges police to out foreign sex offenders
  8. ECB's Draghi set to clarify role in secretive G30 group

Opinion

Building a Europe more resilient to terrorism

One year to the day since the terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, the commissioner for home affairs spells out what action the EU is taking now to protect against further attacks.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. EU court delivers transparency blow on MEP expenses
  2. Russian with Malta passport in money-laundering probe
  3. Cyprus: Russia's EU weak link?
  4. Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline
  5. Every major city in Europe is getting warmer
  6. No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected
  7. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  8. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us