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US plans intervention in EU vs Facebook case caused by NSA snooping

Ireland again the battleground between American surveillance and Europeans' Human Rights

By Alexander J Martin, 13 Jun 2016

The US government has asked the Irish High Court to hear its information in the case between a privacy activist and Facebook.

Austrian activist and lawyer, Max Schrems, brought his complaint against the social network after the revelations of the NSA's PRISM surveillance program, which he, alongside Digital Rights Ireland, alleged made it illegal for Facebook to shuffle European citizens' data to America under EU law. Last year, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) ruled in their favor.

However, responding to a subsequent complaint claiming Facebook was still doing this, the Data Protection Commissioner of Ireland sought "declaratory relief in the Irish High Court and a referral to the CJEU to determine the legal status" of those ongoing transfers.

At a hearing in the Irish High Court today, the US government has sought to intervene in the case, and the court has been adjourned for two weeks to give it – and other parties – time to file a motion in this regard.

A spokesperson for the court confirmed to The Register that the US government, alongside "the American chamber of commerce, the alliance titled ESA, and the business lobby group IBEC, all gave notice in the high court today that they intend to seek to be added as amicus curiae," or friend of the court, which would allow them to submit information although they were not directly cited in the court action.

In a canned statement, Schrems said: "This may be a unique opportunity for us. I therefore very much welcome that the US government will get involved in this case. This is a huge chance to finally get solid answers in a public procedure.

I am very much looking forward to raising all the uncomfortable questions on US surveillance programs in this procedure. It will be very interesting how the US government will react to the clear evidence already before the court." ®

The Register - Independent news and views for the tech community. Part of Situation Publishing