On 15 March 2017, the High Court heard the closing arguments in the pivotal case Data Protection Commissioner v Facebook Ireland Limited & Schrems, reserving judgment to a later date.
As previously reported, the proceedings against Facebook and Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems were instituted by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner ("ODPC") following a complaint by Schrems to the ODPC in relation to Facebook's handling of his personal data. Following a review of Schrems' complaint, the ODPC made a draft finding that his complaint was "well-founded" and initiated proceedings in the High Court, ultimately seeking a referral to the Court of Justice of the EU ("CJEU") in relation to the validity of standard contractual clauses ("SCCs").
Both Facebook and Schrems are opposing the referral, with Facebook arguing that the ODPC's draft finding was flawed and failed to take into account a number of factors, including the newly instituted Privacy Shield framework, and Schrems asserting that the reference by the ODPC was unnecessary and premature.
The case concluded on 15 March after a 5 and a half week trial which saw submissions being made by a number of parties, including each of the four amicus curiae (for more information on the amicus curiae click here), including the US Government and DigitalEurope, a European organisation representing the digital technology industry.
At present, there has been no indication as to when judgment will be delivered, however, it is clear that if a referral is made to the CJEU, the potential consequences and impact of such a referral are vast and wide-ranging.