Privacy campaigner Max Schrems has won yet another battle in his six-year war against Facebook after Ireland’s Supreme Court rejected an attempt by the social media giant to stop the European Court of Justice (ECJ) from presiding over a landmark case regarding the transfer of EU citizens’ data to the US.
The case is the latest to question whether methods used by tech firms to transfer data outside the 28-nation EU - including the Privacy Shield and standard contractual clauses - give consumers adequate protection from US surveillance.
A ruling by Europe’s top court against the current deals would have major implications for thousands of companies, which make millions of transfers every day.
The Irish High Court, which heard Schrems’ case against Facebook last year, said there were well-founded concerns about "an absence of an effective remedy in US law compatible with EU legal requirements, which prohibit personal data being transferred to a country with inadequate privacy protections".
The High Court ordered the case be referred to the ECJ to assess whether current methods were legal.
Facebook took the case to the Supreme Court when the High Court refused its request to appeal the referral, but in a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court said it would not overturn any aspect the ruling.
The High Court’s original five-page referral asks the ECJ if the Privacy Shield - under which companies certify they comply with EU privacy law when transferring data to the US - does in fact mean that the United States "ensures an adequate level of protection".
Schrems said in a statement: "Facebook likely again invested millions to stop this case from progressing. It is good to see that the Supreme Court has not followed."