Europe's highest court just rejected a key agreement used by American tech companies

Mark zuckerberg sad upsetDavid Ramos/Getty ImagesBARCELONA, SPAIN – MARCH 02: Founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg speaks during his keynote conference during the first day of the Mobile World Congress 2015 at the Fira Gran Via complex on March 2, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. The annual Mobile World Congress hosts some of the wold’s largest communication companies, with many unveiling their latest phones and wearables gadgets. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

The European Court of Justice has just ruled that the Safe Harbour agreement, which is used by American startups to transfer data between the US and Europe, is invalid.

What this means is that companies such as Facebook and Twitter may now need to host European user data in Europe, rather than hosting it in the US and transferring it over.


The ruling comes after privacy advocate Max Schrems brought a case against Facebook in Ireland. He said his privacy had been violated by the NSA’s mass surveillance programs first revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden. Schrems is Austrian, but brought the case against Facebook in Ireland because the company’s European headquarters are in Dublin.

Here’s Schrems at the European Court of Justice today awaiting the ruling:

The Data Protection Commissioner, Ireland’s data regulator, rejected his case because it was bound by a legal agreement called the Safe Harbour agreement — which Schrems subsequently appealed, resulting in the current European Court of Justice case.

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