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Sunday, April 5, 2015

ECJ Hears Arguments in Challenge to Safe Harbor

On March 24, the European Court of Justice heard arguments in the case brought by Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems challenging the position of Ireland's DPA that it was bound by the European Commission’s adequacy decision in 2000 with respect to the EU-US Safe Harbor framework, and therefore could not consider his claim that NSA surveillance made Safe Harbor invalid.  The impact of the case could be wide-ranging, with some 4,000 US-based organizations currently relying upon Safe Harbor as their legal basis for importing personal data from the EU. Notably, the Commission admitted during the hearing that it cannot guarantee EU citizens’ fundamental right to privacy when their data is transferred to the US under Safe Harbor.  Arguments supporting Schrems were advanced by Austria, Belgium, Poland, Slovenia, the European Parliament, the European Data Protection Supervisor and Digital Rights Ireland. Former French public prosecutor Yves Bot will render the Advocate-General opinion for the case, likely by June 24, with the final opinion of the full 15-member bench of the ECJ to follow.

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