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Irish Supreme Court rules Facebook has to face data protection case

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The Irish Supreme Court dismissed an appeal to stop a referral launched by the defendant, Facebook Ireland Limited. The High Court found that there are well-founded concerns of mass indiscriminate processing and of lack of adequate protection provided by U.S. laws to E.U. users.

The case arose when Austrian lawyer Max Schrems stated that, as an E.U. user, the transfer of his personal data by Facebook to the U.S. violated his privacy rights.

The case was initially taken against Facebook Ireland Limited as the company’s European offices are located in Dublin.

Facebook’s appeal against the referral meant that the Supreme Court had to discuss over the defendant’s right to actually appeal against a referral decision.

On Friday the five judges ruled that while the court can sometimes judge on an appeal of a High Court decision which includes a referral, it cannot judge on an appeal of the referral itself.

Mr. Justice Frank Clarke said: “I do not consider that this Court can entertain any appeal against the decision of the High Court to make a reference or against the terms of that reference.”

“I am also satisfied that it is not appropriate for this Court to entertain an appeal which is directly concerned with the analysis of the High Court leading to a decision by that Court to the effect that it shared the concerns of the DPC. That analysis is inextricably linked with the decision to refer and is not a matter which can properly be pursued on appeal.”

In a statement following the ruling, Mr. Schrems declared himself satisfied by the judgment. “It is good to see that the Supreme Court has not followed Facebook’s arguments that were in total denial of all existing findings so far,” he said.

Facebook commented through one of its spokespersons: “We are grateful for the consideration of the Irish court and look ahead to the Court of Justice of the European Union to now decide on these complex questions.”

“Standard contract clauses provide important safeguards to ensure that Europeans’ data are protected once transferred overseas.

SCCs have been designed and endorsed by the European Commission and are used by thousands of companies across Europe to do business.”

The European Court of Justice hearing will take place in Luxemburg on the 9th of July.

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