US seeks to intervene in European privacy case against Facebook

US seeks to intervene in European privacy case against Facebook

The United States is looking to intervene in a legal dispute between Ireland and Facebook.

Government lawyers lobbied the Irish High Court to be allowed to present information supporting Facebook in a case concerning data privacy rights, The Register reports.


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and industry groups have also announced plans to do the same. All parties have two weeks to submit a formal motion to enter the case.

The Facebook case dates to an action by privacy activist Max Schrems challenging U.S. companies' data practices.

Schrems argued an agreement that allowed companies to shuttle data between the European Union (EU) and the U.S. didn't do enough to protect privacy rights after the revelations of National Security Agency surveillance techniques. Schrems argued that Facebook was unable to keep data on servers located in the U.S. safe.

Last year, that safe harbor data agreement was struck down by a European court, which agreed with his claims.

While the U.S. and EU are working to replace the agreement, Schrems argued that Facebook was still transferring data and brought a new suit.

Irish Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon is pursuing the matter, arguing that Facebook continued unlawfully transferring data to American servers. She is asking the court to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Schrems welcomed the U.S. government's involvement in the case in a post on his Europe v. Facebook website. 

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