Facebook’s data troubles refuse to go away with a fresh court challenge

Facebook’s data troubles refuse to go away with fresh court challenge

Facebook remains mired in multiple legal battles over its use of data with its latest court appearance ordered by the Irish Data Commissioner; this time over its methods for transferring user data from the EU to the US.

At issue is the legal protections afforded to this data, which Europe argues do not go far enough to protect the privacy rights of its citizens amid fears the data could be subject to mass surveillance by US intelligence agencies.

Dismissing such fears as unfounded Facebook insists the necessary safeguards are already in place to prevent such an eventuality but should it fail to convince the commissioner of this it could close off wider transatlantic data flows.

Under the current system, Facebook freely migrates personal data ranging from usernames to online activity to its US-based servers, where they could potentially be accessed by the National Security Agency.

To get around this Facebook operates under a legal framework called ‘standard contractual clauses’ (SCC). However, this model has itself come under fire for not going far enough, with potentially huge consequences for cloud computing firms.

Jack Gilbert, associate general counsel for Facebook, commented: "Standard contractual clauses provide important safeguards to ensure that Europeans' data are protected once transferred overseas," he said.

"SCCs have been designed and endorsed by the European Commission and enable thousands of Europeans to do business worldwide."

Facebook is currently appealing against a separate £500k fine imposed by the UK Information Commissioner for passing user data to Cambridge Analytica.

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