European Court of Justice: U.S. data systems expose users to state surveillance

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg has ruled that U.S. digital data storage systems fail to provide sufficient privacy from state surveillance. The ECJ declared the American so-called safe harbor scheme “invalid.” The ruling, which is binding on all EU members states, stated that: “The United States … scheme thus enables interference, by United States public authorities, with the fundamental rights of persons…” The ruling will have far-reaching ramifications for the online industry and would likely lead many companies to relocate their operations.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg has ruled that U.S.digital data storage systems fail to provide sufficient privacy from state surveillance. The ruling will have far-reaching ramifications for the online industry and would likely lead many companies to relocate their operations. The ECJ declared the American so-called safe harbor scheme “invalid.” The ruling, which is binding on all EU members states, stated that: “The United States … scheme thus enables interference, by United States public authorities, with the fundamental rights of persons…”

The BBC reports that the ruling, confirming an earlier opinion by the court’s advocate-general last month, is a victory for the Austrian campaigner Maximilian Schrems, who initially filed a claim against Facebook in Ireland following Edward Snowden’s revelations about the activities of the National Security Agency (NSA). Mike Weston, CEO of data science consultancy Profusiontold theGuardian: “This ECJ’s decision is not surprising but it will still have a profound impact on the global tech industry.

“American companies are going to have to restructure how they manage, store and use data in Europe and this take a lot of time and money. The biggest casualties will not be companies like Google and Facebook because they already have significant data center infrastructure in countries like the Republic of Ireland, it will be medium-sized, data-heavy tech companies that don’t have the resources to react to this decision.

“Many of these businesses will reconsider how and whether they operate in Europe, which is bad news for everyone.”

 

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