Max Schrems: Personal criminal consequences if DPC fails to act

3 Dec 2015

A full two months after Safe Harbour was found to be invalid by the European Court of Justice, privacy campaigner Max Schrems has rounded on the data protection commissioners, claiming a criminal prosecution could follow if acceptable actions are not undertaken.

Max Schrems, for those unaware, originally complained about the transatlantic, unprotected, heavily-surveilled transfer of his personal data through Facebook.

He brought his complaint to the Irish DPC, as Facebook’s European headquarters is housed here. That failed to get much traction, so he followed it up through the courts until, in October, the highest court in the EU found Safe Harbour, the system whereby data can be thrown across the Atlantic into the US with minimal obstacles, was invalid.

Now, Schrems is still waiting for his wishes to be executed and, in a list of complaints, highlights the “personal criminal consequences for any officeholder” that fails to act on the ruling.

Noting the, no doubt extreme, political and economic pressure Irish DPC Helen Dixon is having to act under at this time, Schrems informed Irish, Belgian and German authorities that his actions may still go beyond “a mere appeal or judicial review”.

The Irish DPC was recently ordered to examine Schrems’ original complaint after the High Court acted on the ECJ’s landmark ruling. By adding in Belgian and German authorities, it is only ramping up the pressure ever more.

“There is clear evidence that leads me to believe that my personal data, controlled by ‘Facebook Ireland Ltd’ and processed by ‘Facebook Inc’ is at the very least ‘made available’ to US  government authorities under various known and unknown legal  provisions and spy programmes such as the ‘PRISM’ programme,” says Schrems.

“There is also a reasonable likelihood that my personal data has, in addition, also been accessed under these provisions.”

With a new Safe Harbour plan in the works, time is of the essence.

Gavel image, via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic