The European court of justice has ruled against the safe harbour treaty that allowed EU citizens’ data to be transferred to the United States.

In a landmark decision the European court of justice has recently adjudged the controversial safe harbour treaty as being non-compliant with European privacy protection rules. Therefore the regulations of exchange of data between companies from the US and the EU have to be revised. While NSA espionage scandals surely played a part in this decision, the official rationale behind the decision is the general possibility of authorities to access digital data basically at any time.

The lawsuit was initiated by an Austrian student against Facebook for collecting his private data. Since Facebook has it’s European headquarter in Ireland the Irish data protection authority now has to decide how the transfer of electronic data of EU-citizens from Facebook to the US should be regulated.
German justice minister Heiko Maas saw the court’s decision as a “strong signal for more data protection and for more protection of privacy in a globally connected world”.

For companies this should also be seen as a signal that protection against industrial espionage and manipulation should not only concern their own data but that the safety of their users, customers and other stakeholders must play a major role. At the same time it is important for companies to retain control over these sensitive data at all time. The conformity with European regulations regarding data protection and privacy can best be accomplished by implementing European or even better German IT-Security solutions that are in line with the strict local standards.