On 16 July 2020, Europe’s highest court, the CJEU, ruled in Data Protection Commissioner v. Facebook Ireland Limited, Maximillian Schrems that individuals in Europe had insufficient redress against US bulk interception rules when their personal data was transferred to the United States under the US Department of Commerce “Privacy Shield” mechanism. This ruling followed a long running campaign by the activist, Max Schrems, who’s prior case to the CJEU invalidated the predecessor to the Privacy Shield, the Safe Harbor.
It is a general tenet of European data protection law that, when personal data is exported from the European Union, any further processing must be to European standards unless the local data protection laws are considered “adequate” by the European Commission. Self-certiﬁcation under the US Privacy Shield mechanism was a popular method for providing adequate data protection amongst US based service providers which had European customers and regularly needed to transfer personal data from Europe to the United States.
Schrems II impacts not only the over 5,300 US companies that enjoyed Privacy Shield self-certiﬁcation, but also the many thousands of EU and US companies that rely upon US companies in their supply chain for data processing. This supply chain could include outsourcing, cloud services, data processing, data storage, telecommunications and the like.
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