EU to Europeans: Abandon Facebook to Avoid US Spying
EC attorney Bernhard Schima made that comment in a case brought by privacy campaigner Maximilian Schrems. The case examines whether the data of EU citizens should be considered safe if sent to the US in light of mass data tracking revealed by National Security Administration whistleblower Edward Snowden.
At issue is the current Safe Harbour framework, which covers the transmission of EU citizens’ data across the Atlantic to the US. Without the framework, it is against EU law to transmit private data outside of the EU. The case collects complaints lodged against Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Microsoft-owned Skype and Yahoo.
Safe Harbour states that US data protection rules are adequate if information is passed by companies on a “self-certify” basis. But Schrems maintains that the US no longer qualifies for such a status due to its tracking programs, so companies operating inside the EU should not be allowed to transfer data to the US.
When asked directly, the commission could not confirm that the Safe Harbour rules, as they currently stand, provide adequate protection of EU citizens’ data.
Poland and a few other member states as well as advocacy group Digital Rights Ireland joined Schrems in arguing that the Safe Harbour framework cannot ensure the protection of EU citizens’ data and therefore is in violation of the two articles of the Data Protection Directive.
The commission, however, argued that Safe Harbour is necessary both politically and economically and that it is still a work in progress.