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Facebook requests to join Irish High Court Safe Harbour proceedings

Facebook has announced that it is requesting to join proceedings at the Irish High Court tomorrow as the row over the Safe Harbour data agreement continues.

The court case centres on whether the social network and other technology firms can transfer data pertaining to EU citizens to the US if they cannot guarantee its security.

Read more: Facebook will now notify users of government attacks

"We will request an opportunity to join the proceedings in the Irish High Court where the Irish DPC's investigation is to be discussed," a Facebook spokesperson told the Irish Independent. "We believe it is critical that we join the proceedings so that we can provide accurate information about our procedures and processes, as well as to correct inaccuracies that already exist."

The court case can trace its origins back to 2012, when Austrian privacy advocate Maximillian Schrems began investigating Facebook’s lack of understanding of Europe’s data protection laws. He subsequently lodged a complaint against the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) for not protecting his Facebook data from US surveillance.

The Irish Court believed that it was unable to take action, however, as a result of the Safe Harbour data transfer agreement in pace between the EU and the US. But a recent judgement by the European Court of Justice declared that this agreement should be revoked.

Read more: Why there’s no such thing as safe harbour

This could potentially cause a huge fallout for businesses operating on either side of the Atlantic, but in the immediate future, it means that Facebook must contest Mr Schrem’s original complaint. The High Court case will resume tomorrow and many technology firms are likely to take a keen interest in the final verdict.

Barclay Ballard
Barclay Ballard

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.