Europe’s top court on Tuesday affirmed the power of national data regulators to pursue cases against major tech companies even if they have their headquarters elsewhere on the continent.
The EU Court of Justice’s ruling means that Facebook, Google, Twitter and Apple — all of which have their European bases in Ireland — may face investigations from more bloc members under certain circumstances.
The decision came in a case over a probe by Belgian authorities against Facebook claiming that the social media giant did not adequately notify users about data collection and use.
While Ireland’s watchdog has pursued dozens of cases against the American tech firms, other members of the European Union have criticized the pace of investigations.
"Under certain conditions, a national supervisory authority may exercise its power to bring any alleged infringement of the GDPR before a court of a member state, even though that authority is not the lead supervisory authority with regard to that processing," the court’s ruling reads.
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) puts the authority in a company’s chosen European headquarters in charge of overseeing it under its one-stop-shop system.
The Belgian investigation was initiated before GDPR came into effect, but still calls into question the rigidity of that rule when it comes to other probes.