EU's data sharing deal with US questioned

A comment by the European Court of Justice’s Advocate General about data transfer between European Union and the United States has sent ripples through the tech world, as it might completely change the way EU and the US companies do digital business.

"The Commission decision is invalid," Reuters quotes Advocate General Yves Bot saying, referring to the Safe Harbour framework enabling data transfers to the United States.

He basically suggests that national authorities should be able to stop data on EU citizens being transferred overseas, if it's going to be used in a way which violates EU rights.

This could also mean a step away from the “Safe Harbour” data sharing agreement between the European Commission, US and Switzerland reached back in 2000.

According to a report by the Financial Times, tech groups reacted with dismay: “We are concerned about the potential disruption to international data flows if the court follows today’s opinion,” said John Higgins of DigitalEurope, a European trade association.

Austrian law student Max Schrems had challenged Facebook's data collection practices in Europe, after revelations of mass U.S. surveillance programs, Reuters adds.

"*YAY* AG at the #CJEU: #SafeHarbor is invalid. Irish #DPC has a duty to investigate. Further details as soon as we get the written version,“ Schrems wrote on Twitter.

https://twitter.com/maxschrems/status/646590011597582336

The ECJ can be expected to make a final decision in a few months’ time. If it agrees with the Advocate General, it could have widespread consequences for how data is collected and used by American technology companies. The Telegraph says that in practice, the Advocate-General is rarely overruled by the court.