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Europe's highest court rejects American 'safe harbour' agreement

The safe harbour agreement that allows American companies to use a single standard for privacy and data storage has been deemed invalid by the European Court of Justice earlier today.

Edward Snowden’s leaks showed that the NSA were able to use backdoors into Facebook, Twitter, and Yahoo servers. Once the backdoor was in place, any information from the United States or abroad was captured, stored, and potentially looked at by staff at the NSA.

Companies such as Facebook and Twitter will now face more scrutiny, as European investigations begin to find out what information has been taken by US surveillance agencies.

It may also force American companies to create a new privacy standard and open data centers in Europe. That way, information on European citizens will not reach the US and be tampered with in any way.

Even though Facebook denies any wrongdoing and even threatened Europe with loss of features, it is clear that Europe citizens security and privacy is not longer valid under the agreement.

Up to 4,500 American companies rely on Safe Harbour and may be forced to abide by 20 different privacy laws in Europe from now on. The European Commission could draft a proposed privacy law for the whole of Europe, but whether all member states accept that is another case entirely.

There is bound to be hurdles as Europe begins a new process of moving data from Europe to America, or shutting off America entirely in favor of data centers in the EU. That might take years to complete, and could be a huge burn for smaller companies incapable of spending large amounts of servers or data centers.

This is fallout from the Edward Snowden leaks and overzealous surveillance created by the NSA. Europe no longer trusts America as a friendly neighbour, at least when it comes to Internet transmissions.

David Curry
David Curry

David has been a technology journalist for over six years, covering a wide range of sectors. He currently researches apps, app sectors and app markets for Business of Apps, and has written for ITProPortal, RTInsights, ReadWrite, and Digital Trends.