How safe is your Facebook data once it leaves the EU?

Landmark Dublin case questions Facebook and broader US privacy protections...

How safe is your Facebook data once it leaves the EU?

Niall Carson PA Archive/PA Images

The latest chapter of Max Schrems' legal battle with Facebook kicked off in Dublin today - the Irish Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon's office has said that there are "deficiencies" in the existing provisions for EU citizens to investigate breeches of their data protection rights when their personal information is transferred out of Europe.

Tech firms (such as Facebook who this landmark case has been taken against) use 'Standard Contractual Clauses' (SCCs) to provide legal protections to EU citizens when transferring data to the US.

The Irish Commissioner has concerns over whether these clauses offer sufficient protection for European users' and referred the case to the European Court of Justice. The legal action has been taken against Facebook's Irish operation which manages its services across Europe.

Max Schrems originally became concerned about the treatment of EU user's data in the wake of Edward Snowden's whistleblowing on US intelligence agencies' mass electronic surveillance network. He was worried that European piracy protection laws were being violated in North America.

The United States has taken the unprecedented step of joining the case to defend its privacy laws.

It will argue that "significantly enhanced" protections have been put in place to ensure that EU user's data is not compromised, according to The Irish Times.

The US believes that finding that these measures are inadequate would have a "sweeping" commercial fallout and that it would compromise co-operation across the Atlantic to deal with "common threats."

But the case against the company argues that there is "extremely limited" legal supervision regarding how this data is being used - and that non-US citizens can be easily targeted by US intelligence agencies if they are believed to have any information which can be considered "foreign intelligence."

This case is expected to sit for at least three weeks in Dublin.