Quick Hits

EU Court Ruling Means New Global Protections for EU Customer Data

The ruling in a case involving Facebook means that international companies must provide EU-level privacy controls for EU-generated data no matter where it's stored or transferred.

A new ruling from a European Union court could have repercussions for data collection and sharing around the world. With the final ruling in the case of Facebook v. Schrems, the court has decided that companies cannot provide EU customers with lesser privacy rights just by moving their data to a non-EU jurisdiction.

The case, which began in 2013, has been through several stages of rulings after courts decided in 2015 that the "Safe Harbour Agreement" existing between the EU and US was insufficient to protect EU citizens' privacy rights.

In response to the ruling, the EU and US negotiated the Privacy Shield framework, and companies began using Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) to define privacy. This latest ruling invalidates the Privacy Shield framework and requires that SCCs protect privacy at a minimum to the extent provided by General Data Protection Regulation and other EU privacy laws.

In practice, this means that any company dealing with European citizens' data must provide privacy protections equivalent to those of the EU, no matter where the data is transferred, stored, or processed. For many international firms, this means a dramatically higher level of protection is required if they want to continue doing business in Europe.

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