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Europe's High Court Will Look at Facebook's Possible Role in NSA Spying

Europe's High Court Will Look at Facebook's Possible Role in NSA Spying
Photograph by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Did Facebook illegally let the U.S. National Security Agency spy on its European users? That question is to be considered by the European Union’s highest court, after an Irish judge questioned whether data that the social network transferred from Europe to its U.S. servers might have fallen into the hands of the spy agency.

In a ruling today, Irish High Court Judge Gerard Hogan asked the European Court of Justice to decide whether Irish regulators should investigate the data transfers, which have been permitted under a transatlantic agreement that assumes U.S. privacy protections are comparable to those in the EU. Privacy advocates, led by an Austrian law student named Max Schrems, contend that Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA’s Prism program showed that the agency conducted “mass and largely unsupervised surveillance” of Facebook users’ data.