US government joined to Meta’s case against Irish Data Protection Commission

US department of justice senior trial counsel says in an affidavit that the proceedings are of crucial interest to the US

The US government has been joined as a party to Commercial Court proceedings by Facebook owner Meta over a decision of the Data Protection Commission (DPC) that it must suspend the transfer and storage of user data from Europe to the United States.

Mr Justice Denis McDonald agreed to a request from Eileen Barrington SC, for the US government, that her client be joined as a “friend of the court” in the case.

Meta consented to the application, as did Ireland and the Attorney General, who are also respondents along with the DPC. The DPC did not object to the application.

In an affidavit, US department of justice senior trial counsel Katherine L Nesbitt said the proceedings were of crucial interest to the US.


The US has a vital and bona fide interest in ensuring the court has before it an accurate, up-to-date and comprehensive account of the US legal regime regarding government access to data for national security purposes, she said.

This includes potential access to the data of European Union citizens and related privacy safeguards including available redress measures along with reforms consequent to the making in March last year of an executive order by the US president on enhancing safeguards for US signals intelligence activities, she said.

That order, she said, has led to a number of reforms in US law and practice, some of which were considered in the DPC’s final decision on data transfers and in expert reports presented by Meta.

Mr Justice McDonald said a judgment in previous proceedings over the same subject had outlined the principles governing a decision to join the US government to that case.

The judge was satisfied to join the US as an amicus on conditions that it will bear its own costs and that it will not add materially to the length of the proceedings.

Meta was last week granted an extension until the end of this month of an interim stay on the DPC decision that it must suspend the transfer and storage of user data to the US.