Irish justice, seized by Facebook, has agreed to examine a request from the social network and has temporarily blocked an investigation by the Irish regulator which could prevent the transfer of data between Europe and the United States. Facebook had contested the preliminary findings of the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC, the equivalent of the French Cnil), which seemed ready to challenge the system used by the American group to transfer the data of its users from a continent to the other.
A spokesperson for the High Court in Dublin told AFP that a hearing had taken place on Monday and that the DPC’s investigation had been “put on hold” pending the examination of the request. “We welcome the decision of the High Court”, said a spokesperson for Facebook. “International data transfer supports the global economy and many services which are fundamental in our daily lives”, he added.
The “Privacy Shield” invalidated
For his part, Max Schrems, at the head of an NGO that defends digital freedoms, felt that he was not yet sure that Facebook “Wins in the end in this case”. “Facebook only got to see the case examined and that the DPC investigation be suspended for the next few days or weeks”, he warned. The Irish regulator, which supervises Facebook on behalf of the EU, since the latter has its regional headquarters in Ireland, acted in the wake of a resounding decision by the European justice system.
The latter invalidated in July a crucial mechanism for transferring personal data from the EU to the United States, called “Privacy Shield”, due to fears about US surveillance programs. American companies that use the “Privacy Shield” can fall back, like Facebook, on another European data transfer mechanism, the “Standard contractual clauses” (SCC). But the DPC considered that this new mechanism might not have a legal basis either.