Ireland to challenge model clauses as basis for international transfers


Ireland’s  Data  Protection  Commissioner is planning  to  refer the Facebook case back to  the  Court  of  Justice  of  the  European  Union  (CJEU)  to  determine  if  Facebook can  continue  to  transfer  data  from  the  EU  to  the  US  by using EU model clauses, Europe v Facebook has announced:

‘In  an  unpublished  draft  decision of  May  24th 2016  the  Irish  DPC  followed  the  objections  of the  Complainant Mr  Schrems in  the  procedure between  Mr  Schrems  and  Facebook  Ireland Ltd. Mr Schrems claimed that Facebook USA continues to be subject to US mass surveillance laws, independent of the use of “model causes” or “Safe Harbor” and that his data continues to be subject to fundamental rights violations once it reaches the United States.’

Max Schrems said: “This is a very serious issue for the US tech industry and EU-US data flows. As long as far-reaching US surveillance laws apply to them, any legal basis will be subject to invalidation or limitations under EU fundamental right[s]. I see no way that the CJEU can  say  that  model  contracts are  valid  if  they  killed  Safe  Harbor based  on  the  existence  of these US  surveillance  laws. All data protection lawyers knew that model contracts were a shaky thing, but it was so far the easiest and quickest solution they came up with. As long as the US does not substantially change its laws I don’t see [how] there could be a solution.’

These developments could further complicate international data transfers. As we wait for the approval of the EU-US Privacy Shield framework, companies have been told that they can in the meantime rely on EU model clauses and Binding Corporate Rules.


Great Expectations, PL&B’s 29th Annual International Conference 4-6 July in Cambridge has a session entitled ‘The EU-US Privacy Shield and the future of EU adequacy for 3rd countries’. Speaker: Bruno Gencarelli, Head of the Data Protection Unit, Justice, European Commission. See where the full programme is now published as well as a separate version with session summaries.


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