DPC welcomes Schrems decision to drop legal case

Activist settled his action after DPC agreed to proceed with his Facebook complaint

Austrian activist Max Schrems settled his judicial review with Ireland’s Data Protection Commission. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Austrian activist Max Schrems settled his judicial review with Ireland’s Data Protection Commission. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

 

The Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) has welcomed the move by Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems to drop his legal action against the Irish regulator.

Mr Schrems dropped his case in the commercial court on Wednesday after the DPC agreed to proceed with his longstanding complaint challenging Facebook’s transatlantic data flows.

“That was made possible by both parties’ willingness to make adjustments to their respective positions,” a DPC spokesman said.

The agreement between the DPC and Mr Schrems comes as the High Court rules on Facebook’s challenge to the DPC’s draft decision to inquire into and suspend data transfers by Facebook Ireland to the US.

Facebook is trying to prevent the regulator from halting the data flows.

“Because judgment is now awaited in the Facebook proceedings, and because sets of proceedings are concerned with the same regulatory processes, the DPC is not in a position to make a statement at this time,” the DPC spokesman said.

“Additionally, the issue of the costs of Mr Schrems’ proceedings has yet to be decided by the court, and so it would not be appropriate to comment on the substance of that case,” he said.

If successful in the High Court, the DPC will undertake both procedures, Mr Schrems complaint and its own inquiry into Facebook’s transatlantic data transfers.

“The two procedures will now run in parallel rather than in sequence, and Mr Schrems will make submissions in both,” the spokesman said.

In his 2013 complaint, Mr Schrems argued that Facebook Ireland, the tech giant’s chief European subsidiary, which is based in Dublin, was in breach of EU law by transferring European users’ personal data for processing in the US.

The case has gone through at least seven court cases, although the DPC has yet to make a formal finding to uphold, or dismiss, the Schrems complaint.