Monday, 19 October 2015

Facebook applies to join Irish court case over future of data privacy

Facebook has applied to join proceedings in the High Court tomorrow in a case involving the Irish Data Protection Commissioner and the future of data privacy between the EU and US. 

"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 Facebook spokesman.

"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."

The case is a return to the High Court of a complaint made by the Austrian campaigner Max Schrems over the privacy of Facebook data transferred to the US.

The case was previously referred from the High Court to the European Court of Justice by Mr Justice Hogan in a point of European law.

The ECJ subsequently ruled against existing 'Safe Harbour' data transfer arrangements in a judgement two weeks ago. The ruling casts doubt over data transfers between the EU and US based on a lack of regard for European privacy rights in the US.

The European Court Of Justice also ruled that the Irish Data Protection Commissioner should now reconsider Max Schrems' complaint over Facebook's transfer of data to US servers.

The High Court will now proceed with the original case.


Facebook will warn you if it thinks the government is spying on you

If Facebook thinks that your government is spying on your over the internet, it will now warn you. Facebook’s chief security officer Alex Stamos announced through a blog spot that the world’s largest social network will notify you if it believes that your account has been “targeted or compromised by an attacker suspected of working on behalf of a nation-state.”

He adds that such attacks “tend to be more advanced and dangerous than others”, which means that users should be extra careful.
If you’re a target, Facebook will display the following warning when you try to log in to your account.

Stamos says that if you receive such a warning, you should probably replace or rebuild your hardware (your computer or your phone) to get rid of any malware that government agency might have placed.
This begs the question: how does Facebook distinguish between a government-backed attack and one by a regular hacker? Stamos doesn’t go into details “to protect the integrity of our methods and processes,” but says that Facebook will only show the warning if the company has strong evidence of state involvement.