Six weeks is the limit: Irish regulator still investigating Facebook’s data transfer policies

Ireland’s data regulator has given Facebook six weeks to respond to an investigation that could trigger a ban on social media giant Facebook’s transatlantic data transfers, after the Irish High Court ruled that the probe could resume, Reuters reported.

Six weeks is the limit: Irish regulator still investigating Facebook's data transfer policies

The case stems from EU concerns that the U.S. government may not respect the privacy rights of EU citizens when their personal data is sent to the U.S. for commercial use.

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC), Facebook’s main regulator in the EU, launched the investigation last August and issued an interim order saying that the main mechanism Facebook uses to transfer EU user data to the U.S. was “effectively unusable.

A spokeswoman for the DPC said in a statement after the court lifted the freeze on the interim order this week, “Following Thursday’s High Court hearing, we wrote to Facebook giving them six weeks to provide us with their submissions.”

Facebook then challenged the investigation and the interim order, saying they could have “devastating” and “irreversible” consequences for its business. This is because Facebook’s business relies on processing user data in order to provide targeted online advertising.

It is understood that the ruling will not result in an immediate halt to the flow of data. But Austrian privacy advocate Max Schrems said he believes the decision is inevitable. Schrems has been pushing the Irish data regulator to take a series of legal actions over the past eight years.

A company spokesman said Facebook is looking forward to defending its compliance with EU rules because the Irish regulator’s interim order “could harm not only Facebook, but also users and other businesses.

If the Irish regulator enforces the interim order, it will effectively end the privileged access of U.S. companies to European personal data and put them on the same footing as companies in other countries outside the EU.

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