EU citizens were recommended to close their Facebook accounts to keep information private from US security services. It turned out that current Safe Harbor legislation does not protect their information.
Such recommendations were given by EC attorney in a case brought by an Austrian law student Maximilian Schrems, which investigated whether the data of European citizens can be considered safe if sent to the United States. Indeed, when asked directly, the Commission failed to confirm to the court that the Safe Harbor rules could ensure adequate protection of information of EU citizens.
The case launched by Schrems collects complaints against Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Skype and Yahoo, claiming that companies operating inside the European Union should not be allowed to pass information over to the United States under Safe Harbor protections. Maximilian Schrems claimed that the PRISM data collection program breached the European standards for privacy protection.
The Austrian student was joined by a few other EU member states and the advocacy group Digital Rights Ireland. The campaigners argued that the Safe Harbor framework couldn’t ensure the protection of information. In response, the European Commission argued that Safe Harbor is still a work in progress, subject to a reform with a 13-point plan in order to ensure the privacy of EU citizens’ information.
The law firm Eversheds pointed out that there have been a spate of cases from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and other courts on data privacy. It also says that bringing down the safe harbor mechanism might seem ill-conceived, but “as the decision of the court in the “right to be forgotten” case seems to reinforce that isn’t a fetter which the European Court of Justice is restrained by”.