POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - ECONOMY

Uni quits Facebook Connect over data privacy complaint



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The University of Luxembourg is among a number of European organisations asking for more information on transferring data to the US.

The higher education institution came into the crosshairs of data privacy activist Max Schrems for its use of Facebook Connect, a function of the social networking site that allows users to link accounts on other sites to their Facebook account.

The university was among 101 firms and institutions that were named when Schrems filed a complaint on Facebook and Google’s violations of EU data privacy laws.

A university spokesperson said they disactivated Facebook Connect at the end of August. “In practical terms this has a limited impact for the University and the users of its services,” she said.

In July, Schrems won a European Court of Justice ruling invalidating Privacy Shield, a transatlantic agreement used to transfer data from the EU to the US. He argued that data was not as safe in the US as the EU because of the potential for surveillance by US intelligence agencies.

That verdict “has left a certain level of uncertainty regarding safeguards to apply. The university is following the first guidelines given by the European Data Protection Board given in their FAQ on 23 July 2020, and we are looking forward to additional guidance from the European Data Protection Board regarding safeguards for individuals in case of transfer of data,” the spokesperson said.

Schrems wrote on Noyb, his not-for-profit site:

“Neither Facebook nor Google seem to have a legal basis for the data transfers. Google still claims to rely on the “Privacy Shield” a month after it was invalidated, while Facebook continues to use the "SCCs", despite the Court finding that US surveillance laws violate the essence of EU fundamental rights.”