ECJ deliberates Facebook 'Safe Harbor' agreement

Deliberations have begun on Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems' lawsuit against Facebook—a ground-breaking case that could define the way big data manages customer privacy. After Irish High Court escalated the case, hearings are now taking place before the European Court of Justice, and will focus on the process US companies use to comply with EU directives for the protection of personal data, coined “Safe Harbour.”

The basis of the lawsuit, which has been three years in process and predates Edward Snowden's NSA revelations, is the claim that European personal data processed by Facebook is left unprotected when transferred to the US. Schrems told media outlets that as a student in America he became aware of the lackadaisical attitude toward European data protection and privacy. Singling out Facebook, amidst any number of companies guilty of negligence, Schremes has described the social media company's protocol as “superficial” and intentionally “vague.” “We usually pride ourselves on the privacy laws in Europe and point fingers at the US for not having them and being the bad ass spying people,” he told online news sources, “but the reality is we were not enforcing these laws.”

Earning substantial media attention, Schrems' crowd-funded case has raised €60,000 from 2,000 donors.