File photo. Photograph:( WION )
Facebook has moved to block referral of an Irish privacy case to Europe's top court, a lawyer for the U.S. tech giant said on Monday, seeking to avoid a potential ban on the legal instrument it uses to transfer users' data to the United States.
The case, taken by privacy activist Max Schrems, is the latest to question whether methods used by technology firms such as Google and Apple to transfer data outside the 28-nation European Union give EU consumers sufficient protection from U.S. surveillance.
The Irish High Court this month ordered the case to be referred to the EU's top court for a detailed assessment of whether the methods used for data transfers - including standard contractual clauses and the Privacy Shield agreement - were legal.
A ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) against the legal arrangements could cause major headaches for thousands of firms, which make millions of these transfers every day.
The lawyer, Paul Gallagher, told the Irish High Court on Monday that Facebook was seeking a stay on the court's referral of the case to the ECJ to give the Irish Supreme Court time to decide if it would hear an appeal.
"The ideal thing we would be looking for would be a stay pending a determination by the Supreme Court," Gallagher told the court, adding that Facebook would seek an accelerated referral to the Supreme Court so it would take days, not months.
The case was taken in Ireland, the location of Facebook's headquarters for most markets outside the United States.
The judge earlier said the case raised well-founded concerns that there is an absence of an effective remedy in U.S. law compatible with EU legal requirements.