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Safe harbour in doubt following European Union ruling

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A ruling due next week from the EU’s top court on a long-running transatlantic pact on private data could affect all legal ways of moving such data from Europe to the United States, lawyers say, potentially disrupting the everyday online transactions of thousands of companies.

In response, the U.S. Mission to the European Unionissued a statement on Monday (September 28, 2015) stating that the AG relied on inaccuracies in the underlying case against Facebook pending in Ireland.

To side-step the issue, Schrems previously speculated that the removal of Safe Harbour could lead to numerous tech firms that have signed up to the agreement to build European datacentres, so their users’ data doesn’t have to pass to the US.

The directive kicked the final decision up to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which will make its decision on October. 6, much sooner than expected.

Last week the Court’s adviser, the Advocate General, stated the settlement must be scrapped following the 2013 leaks from fugitive Edward Snowden about mass digital surveillance packages carried out by the D.R. National Security Agency.

Advocate General Yves Bot was providing guidance to the court, which had asked whether that safe harbor agreement precluded investigating a complaint that, in light of the Snowden revelations about NSA surveillance activities, the US offered no real protections, the Safe Harbor agreement notwithstanding.

In saying that the Commission’s decisions on Safe Harbour are “not absolutely binding”, Bot’s comments could open up a can or worms.

The suspension of Safe Harbor is likely to cause chaos, not just for those USA companies that are certified to the program, but also to those companies that use vendors and suppliers that are safe-harbor certified. However, lawyers say that the repercussions of a negative ruling could prove far wider, while Washington is already smarting over the Snowden allegations being deemed as fact by the Advocate General.

“None of these different mechanisms excludes D.J. intelligence providers from accessing that data”.

The time-frame, too, might be tight until companies already moved to determine an alternate authorized framework.

The EU and the US lately agreed a separate data-sharing settlement for safety functions which hinges on the D.R. Congress passing a regulation giving Europeans the suitable to sue the D.R. authorities when their data is misused.

These data transfers have been sanctioned through the company’s participation in Safe Harbor, a scheme that the European Commission had declared ensured adequate protection of the personal data of EU citizens…

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