Irish data commissioner questions data transfers of Facebook, Google & more

The legality of "model contract clauses" is in doubt...

Irish data commissioner questions data transfers of Facebook, Google & more

Image: PR Slides

The Data Protection Commissioner has questioned the legality of how tech giants such as Facebook and Google transfer data from the EU to the US, with concerns set to be passed on to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Commissioner Helen Dixon confirmed her office's concerns yesterday following an investigation into whether personal privacy is being adequately protected from US government surveillance.

It follows the ECJ's decision to strike down the Safe Harbour treaty between the EU and US last October after a complaint from Austrian law student Max Schrems, on the grounds that it offered EU citizens' insufficient privacy.

The Commissioner said that it would "continue to thoroughly and diligently investigate Mr Schrems' complaint to ensure the adequate protection of personal data".

The matter is now going to the High Court with the aim of securing a referral to the ECJ.

If the "model contract clauses" at the centre of the case are ultimately struck down by the ECJ, thousands of European companies will face uncertainty regarding how they can legally handle data.