The US government has asked to be added to the legal case between Facebook and Austrian citizen Max Schrems, in a move that will see the spy organisation discuss how it operates under oath.
The move comes as Schrems continues to challenge the right of Facebook to transfer data from the EU to the US, given that it is likely to be passed on to the security agencies.
Schrems won a landmark decision in the case last year when the European Court of Justice invalidated the Safe Harbour framework that had covered data transfers from Europe to the US.
Since then Facebook has switched to using the Model Clauses framework to allow data to continue to flow to the US. However, Schrems argues that this is no better as it still does not prevent his data being used for surveillance purposes.
The Us government has now asked the Irish High Court, where the new challenge is being heard, to be added as a member of the defence with Facebook.
Schrems welcomed the move, claiming that it will give him and his legal team the chance to put the governement and divisions like the NSA and CIA under scrutiny like never before.
“This may be a unique opportunity for us. I therefore very much welcome that the US government will get involved in this case. This is a huge chance to finally get solid answers in a public procedure,” he said.
"I am very much looking forward to raise all the uncomfortable questions on US surveillance programmes in this procedure. It will be very interesting how the US government will react to the clear evidence already before the court.”
The fallout from the original Safe Harbour decision led to the US and EU authorities cobbling together new laws to determine the security of EU citizens data, called Privacy Shield.
This has yet to be ratfiied, and many privacy campaigners and MEPs are dubious that it will survive any serious legal scrutiny.
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