Max Schrems, Europe Versus Facebook Take Aim at Safe Harbor Agreement Between U.S., EU


SafeHarborLogo650Austrian law student Max Schrems and his Europe Versus Facebook group have been a thorn in Facebook’s side since challenging the social network’s privacy policies in 2011, and they are now going after bigger game: Safe Harbor, the agreement between the U.S. and the European Union that gives more than 3,000 U.S. companies — including Facebook, Google and Apple – the ability to capture personal data from European users.

The Wall Street Journal’s Digits blog reported that Schrems is challenging Safe Harbor on the grounds that his personal data could be made available to the National Security Agency once it is stored on servers in the U.S., which would violate EU privacy rules.

According to Digits, Schrems is seeking the complete removal of Safe Harbor, rather than adjusting the agreement, and he said at an International Association of Privacy Professionals conference in Brussels Thursday:

We will go on a head-on collision with Safe Harbor. Safe Harbor in practice doesn’t give you any protection. Mass surveillance of millions of people is surely not adequate.

Schrems and Europe Versus Facebook burst upon the scene in October 2011, when they filed a complaint against Facebook with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner – Facebook’s European headquarters is in Dublin – expressing concerns about the amount of personal data the social network was collecting and storing.

In June 2013, Europe Versus Facebook filed a host of complaints over the NSA’s Prism initiative, with its targets including Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Skype and Yahoo.

And this past July, Schrems and Europe Versus Facebook filed a class-action lawsuit against the social network in Vienna, covering several topics.

Readers: What do you think of the challenge to Safe Harbor?