NU.nl, 15 December 2015: 'Dutch privacy organisations threaten Facebook with lawsuit'
“Four Dutch civil rights organisations are threatening to take Facebook to court if the social network does not stop sending private data to the United States.
In a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Bits of Freedom and Privacy First, among others, complained that the company did not get involved in the discussion about the abolished Safe Harbor treaty between the US and the EU.
In that data treaty, the regions agreed on the storage of personal data on each other's territory. The Safe Harbor treaty allowed companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter to store Europeans' data in the US under certain conditions.
However, the European Court of Justice recently ruled that the treaty is invalid, partly because the US does not provide sufficient protection for European personal data. The EU and US are currently sitting down to draft a new treaty.
Meanwhile, however, Facebook continues to store European personal data on servers in the US. To do so, the company relies on standard contracts, which the letter writers say are also no longer valid.
"As long as there is no adequate level of protection in the US, transfers are clearly in breach of EU privacy law," said Privacy First chairman Bas Filippini.
"We invite Facebook to publicly participate in a meaningful and transparent dialogue with the aim of finding a solution," the letter reads, setting a deadline of 15 January 2016 for Facebook to find a proper solution.
If that fails, the organisations say they will initiate summary proceedings to ensure Facebook stops data transfers to the US altogether. The demand also applies to its subsidiary services Instagram and Whatsapp.
Facebook commented that the company uses "the same mechanisms as thousands of other companies in the EU" to provide data "lawfully".
"We believe that a new Safe Harbor agreement with adequate and appropriate safeguards for European citizens is the best solution to the situation that has arisen," a Facebook spokesperson said.
The social networking site says it is confident that negotiations on a new treaty by EU and US authorities will lead to a solution.
Austrian law student Max Schrems is also demanding in multiple proceedings against Facebook that the company better protect users' privacy, and stop data transfers to the US. One of Schrems' complaints caused the European Court to reach its verdict on the Safe Harbor agreement."
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