15:07 GMT +323 July 2018
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    Final Countdown for Facebook Data Privacy Ruling

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    The final countdown to one of the biggest ever Internet privacy cases has begun. On October 6 2015, the consequences of whistle-blower Edward Snowden’s actions could be felt by the United States and Europe based on the outcome of the case of Max Schrems and 25,000 other social networkers who are suing Facebook.

    The allegations include the illegal tracking of data and breaching privacy under European Union law and Facebook’s involvement in the PRISM surveillance program by the US National Security Agency (NSA), revealed by Edward Snowden.

    An adviser to Europe’s top court, Advocate General Yves Bot recently found that access to Facebook accounts "enjoyed by the United States intelligence services" interferes with the right to respect for a private life and the right to protection of personal data under European law.

    Advocate General Yves Bot believes the 'Safe Harbor' agreement in which Facebook data can be transferred from EU countries to servers in the US is "invalid".

    The Safe Harbor agreement, designed to protect people’s personal data is deemed by the Advocate General to be invalid because it can’t guarantee that the NSA won’t spy on swathes of European citizens’ data which is transferred to US servers.

    But the US government is criticizing the advice offered by the Attorney General to the European Court of Justice, claiming "numerous inaccurate assertions about intelligence practices of the United States" were made.

    The US Mission to the EU has released a statement saying: "We are optimistic that our discussions will conclude soon with a positive outcome for both sides".

    Bot told European Court judges that because NSA surveillance was carried out on a massive scale, it allowed access to data "without any differentiation, limitation or exception".

    In response, the US government says: "The United States does not and has not engaged in indiscriminate surveillance of anyone, including ordinary European citizens".

    In less than a fortnight the ruling on the Safe Harbour case could leave US authorities with no choice but to change its surveillance laws to protect European citizens in the future.

    Related:

    Call to Halt EU-US Data Exchange Might Facilitate Compromise on Safe Harbor Deal
    EU Should Oblige Data Exporting Companies to Ensure Privacy – Lawyer
    The Snowden Effect: Safe Harbor for Facebook Users 'Invalid'
    EU Court May Follow Advocate General's Urge to Suspend Data Transfer to US
    Tags:
    Edward Snowden, data, social media, human rights, online, security, privacy, Facebook, European Court of Human Rights, Europe, United States
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