Facebook loses bid to block Irish watchdog’s data flow decision

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Facebook lost a bid to block an Irish watchdog’s draft decision that could suspend the Silicon Valley giant’s ability to transfer data from the U.S. to the EU, according to a decision released by the Irish High Court Friday. 

The court rejected Facebook’s procedural complaints about the Irish Data Protection Commission’s preliminary decision from August to order the suspension of Facebook’s data flow between the U.S. and the EU.

Justice David Barniville wrote in the court’s decision released Friday that Facebook “must fail on those grounds of challenge and that it is, therefore, not entitled to any of the reliefs claimed in the proceedings.”

A Facebook spokesperson said in a statement “we look forward to defending our compliance to the IDPC, as their preliminary decision could be damaging not only to Facebook, but also to users and other businesses.”

Data Protection Commission spokesman Graham Doyle said that the commission “welcomes today’s judgement,” according to The Associated Press

Facebook had reportedly challenged the Data Protection Commission’s preliminary decision to order the suspension of Facebook’s data flow between the U.S. and the EU shortly after it was released. Facebook argued that the preliminary conclusion was issued too quickly and without waiting for guidance from other regulators, The Wall Street Journal reported

The commission must still finalize its draft decision before ordering a suspension of data transfers, and it must be submitted to other EU privacy regulators for approval before going into effect. That process could take months even without any other court challenges, the Journal noted. 

The Data Protection Commission’s draft decision followed the EU’s top court ruling in July that a data transfer deal between EU countries and the U.S. is invalid because of concerns about U.S. surveillance practices. 

The case around Facebook could have implications for trans-Atlantic data transfers, as it relates to other tech giants — including Apple, Google and Twitter — that have European headquarters in Ireland. 

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