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Max Schrems, European Law Student, Is Winning Against Facebook In A Data Privacy Case

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Austrian law student Max Schrems feels confident that the final hearing of the case that was filed against Facebook would end up to his favor.

The Irish High Court is expected to run a final hearing of the case on Tuesday after receiving it back from the European Court of Justice. The latter had allegedly overruled the Safe Harbor agreement that was being used by Facebook as its "immunity" weapon against investigation on privacy invasion charges.

The controversial Safe Harbor agreement was created in 2000 and was finalized between the U.S. and the E.U. It allows tech and non-tech companies to transfer users' data to their U.S. servers free from any regulatory compliance from the data protection watchdogs in Europe.

Schrems had initially filed his complaint with the Data Protection Commissioner of Ireland since it is where the European headquarters of Facebook is located.

His complaint was then referred to the EU's highest court by an Irish High Court judge which sought information on whether national authorities would be allowed to suspend data transfers once they found out that privacy safeguards were not enough in the country where the data are headed.

A response from the ECJ declared that the system being used by a number of U.S. and European companies on transferring personal data to the U.S. is invalid because the latter lacks strong privacy protection regulations.

Facebook has requested permission to join in the court proceedings and is still waiting for a confirmation on whether it will be allowed to do so.

"We will request an opportunity to join the proceedings in the Irish High Court, where the Irish DPC's investigation is to be discussed," said a spokesperson for Facebook. "We believe it is critical that we join the proceedings so that we can provide accurate information about our procedures and processes, as well as to correct inaccuracies that already exist."

So far, Facebook is yet to clarify what type of inaccuracies it wants to correct.

Schrems remains confident and feels intrigued on how Facebook would proceed with an argument.

"Very interesting: @Facebook just said it intends to join the procedure at the (final) hearing on #SafeHarbor at the High Court tomorrow...;)," tweeted Schrems.

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), believed that while the fight staged by Schrems against Facebook is reminiscent of David and Goliath's, it was the law student who had actually won.

According to Rotenberg, Max is an effective advocate. "He has taken on a real problem-the weakness of the Safe Harbor regime - and pursued it as a smart advocate. He created a clear legal claim, and, perhaps most importantly, he didn't give up."

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