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The Irish High Court has decided to seek a preliminary ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union on the legality of a crucial data transfer mechanism between the EU and the US, Standard Contractual Clauses.

The Irish High Court has decided to seek a preliminary ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union on the legality of a crucial data transfer mechanism between the EU and the US, Standard Contractual Clauses.  The case arose originally from a complaint made by Mr Schrems to the Irish Data Protection Commissioner regarding the lawfulness of transfer of personal data relating to Facebook’s European subscribers by Facebook-Ireland to its US parent, Facebook Inc.  An earlier judicial review by Mr Schrems resulted in the invalidation of the Safe Harbour arrangement. 

Following that ruling, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner commenced an investigation into Mr Schrems’ complaint.  During the course of that investigation, she developed well-founded concerns as to the validity of an alternative transfer mechanism used by Facebook, namely, the Standard Contractual Clauses.  She issued a draft decision and proceedings seeking a reference on the issue to the CJEU.  The Irish High Court has indicated that it shares the Commissioner's concerns and that it will make a reference to the Court of Justice.

The outcome of the preliminary ruling has potentially huge implications for EU-US trade and for the data privacy rights of EU citizens.

The case has been reported in the New York Times and the Financial Times (subscription required). 

Catherine Donnelly acted for the Irish Data Protection Commissioner.

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