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Tech & Science Facebook, privacy activist Schrems battle nears end on Dec. 19

01:26  14 december  2019
01:26  14 december  2019 Source:   reuters.com

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems ' seven-year battle against Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) reaches a crucial point on Dec . 17 when an adviser to Europe's top court will issue his view on whether tools used by companies to transfer data abroad are legal or not.

Facebook will face Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems next week at Europe's top court in a landmark case that could affect how hundreds of thousands of companies transfer personal data worldwide as well as Europeans' privacy rights.

a close up of a sign: FILE PHOTO: Facebook logos© Reuters/Johanna Geron FILE PHOTO: Facebook logos

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems' seven-year battle against Facebook reaches a crucial point on Dec. 17 when an adviser to Europe's top court will issue his view on whether tools used by companies to transfer data abroad are legal or not.

Max Schrems looking at the camera: Austrian lawyer and privacy activist Schrems smiles during a Reuters interview in Vienna© Reuters/HEINZ-PETER BADER Austrian lawyer and privacy activist Schrems smiles during a Reuters interview in Vienna

At stake are standard contractual clauses used by Facebook and hundreds of thousands of companies, ranging from banks to industrial giants to carmakers, to transfer personal data to the United States and other parts of the world.

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One of the most important international privacy cases in recent history arose from a complaint against Facebook brought to the Irish Data Protection Commissioner by an Austrian privacy advocate named Max Schrems . In the complaint, Mr. Schrems challenged the transfer of his data (and the data of EU

Another issue is whether the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, which came into existence in 2016 and designed to protect Europeans' personal data transferred across the Atlantic for commercial use, is lawful or not.

Schrems, an Austrian law student, who successfully fought against the EU's previous privacy rules called Safe Harbour in 2015, challenged Facebook's use of standard clauses on the grounds that they do not offer sufficient data protection safeguards.

Max Schrems sitting in front of a laptop: FILE PHOTO: Austrian lawyer and privacy activist Schrems displays his Facebook account's updated terms page during a Reuters interview in Vienna© Reuters/Heinz-Peter Bader FILE PHOTO: Austrian lawyer and privacy activist Schrems displays his Facebook account's updated terms page during a Reuters interview in Vienna

Facebook's lead regulator, the Irish Data Protection agency, took the case to the Irish High Court which then sought guidance from the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

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Facebook had argued that because Schrems has a Facebook page, he is no longer a consumer. The court found Schrems ’ page does not “entail the loss of a Schrems first filed the lawsuit against Facebook Ireland in 2014, following revelations released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Следующее. 18.00 - 19 .30 Briefing + Youth movement for sustainable consumption patterns? Workshop: Introduction to the European Union - Продолжительность: 2:13: 19 EuropeanUnionSC Kämpf um deine Daten: Facebook -Rebell Max Schrems gibt Tipps - Продолжительность: 35:06

The opinion by Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe, advocate general at the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union, is non-binding. However, judges follow such recommendations in four out of five cases. The court will rule in the coming months.

The case has implications for companies because the transfer measures are essential in ensuring the free flow of data to non-EU countries, said Jamie Drucker at UK-based law firm Bristows.

"They underpin some of the most significant business operations, including outsourced services, cloud infrastructure, data hosting, HR management, payroll, finance, and marketing," he said.

If the Court invalidates the measures, "this would mean they (companies) would either need to suspend transfers of personal data to these countries or risk breaching the GDPR and exposing themselves to significant revenue based fines," Drucker said.

Landmark privacy rules known as GDPR adopted last year gives privacy watchdogs the power to fine companies up to 4% of their global annual revenue for violations.

The case is C-311/18 Facebook Ireland and Schrems

Apple is appearing at the year's biggest tech conference for the first time since 1992, and it says a lot about where the company is headed .
Apple's senior director of global privacy is speaking at a roundtable event at CES in January. Apple doesn't usually have an official presence at the show and instead holds its own events to announce new products. But its participation in this panel suggests that its messaging around privacy is so important that it feels compelled to promote it even outside of its traditional means. It also shows that CES has become increasingly important for large companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon, which haven't had a big presence at the show historically. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

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