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High Court orders Irish Data Protection Commissioner to investigate Facebook

The High Court over in Ireland has seen fit to order an investigation into Facebook's privacy practices concerning data on EU citizens, and the transference of said data to the US.

Following the European Court of Justice's ruling that the Safe Harbour agreement – which allows for the transfer of data to the States – should be scrapped, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner has been ordered to probe the social network's practices in this respect.

Previously, the Data Protection Commissioner had refused to investigate Facebook, due to said Safe Harbour agreement.

The ECJ made its recent recommendation on Safe Harbour based largely on the fact that once user data has been transferred to the US, the NSA and other federal authorities can access it via the surveillance programs we've heard so much about in recent times. Therefore the data isn’t deemed to be safe or properly protected.

Incidentally, all this stems from an Austrian privacy campaigner, Maximillian Schrems, who first made a complaint against Facebook Ireland regarding the privacy of his data being shuttled off to the US.

Reuters reports that the Irish Data Protection Commissioner’s office issued a statement to say it’s now going to “proceed to investigate the substance of the complaint with all due diligence”.

Facebook, naturally enough, said it was happy to respond to any questions the Commissioner had.

This battle will likely rumble on for some time yet, and the final outcome could have a big impact on all major tech companies, not just Facebook.

Darren Allan
Darren Allan

Darran has over 25 years of experience in digital and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. He's also an author, having co-written a novel published by Little, Brown (Hachette UK). He currently writes news, features and buying guides for TechRadar, and occasionally other Future websites such as T3 or Creative Bloq and he's a copy editor for TechRadar Pro. Darrran has written for a large number of tech and gaming websites/magazines in the past, including Web User and ComputerActive. He has also worked at IDG Media, having been the Editor of PC Games Solutions and the Deputy Editor of PC Home.