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How does the FTC know what data is being transferred from the EU to the US?

Seal of the US Federal Trade Commission

On the 8th January last, a report caught my eye.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, one of the Federal Trade Commissioners was talking about the Schrems case and its potential economic impact.

Commissioner Brill said that the

“vast majority of data impacted by Safe Harbour decision is HR data, which impacts jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.”

I was struck by this assertion. It seemed unlikely, to say the least, that the volume of data transferred from the EU to the US on a daily basis was mostly HR data and not- say- the gigabytes of Facebook’s user data.

But what I also wondered about was how the FTC had somehow received intelligence which outlined the quantity and content of all the data being transferred, broken down by what the data was about.

So, I sent in a request under the US Freedom of Information Act.

I write further to the reported remarks of Commissioner Brill.

Commissioner Brill is reported to have stated “Vast majority of data impacted by Safe Harbor decision is HR data, which impacts jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.”

I wish to make a request under the US Freedom of Information Act for any and all documents, held in any format;

1) Which measure, assess or otherwise quantify the amount of data “impacted by the Safe Harbour decision” (which I have taken as a reference to the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the case of Max Schrems v The Data Protection Commissioner)

And/or

2) which measure, assess or otherwise quantify the nature of the data “impacted by the Safe Harbour decision”, such that it’s purpose and use is ascertained

And/or

3) specifically, which measure, assess or otherwise quantify the proportion of the data “impacted by the Safe Harbour decision” which is HR data.

Please provide these documents to me in electronic format.

For clarity, I act as solicitor for Digital Rights Ireland, a notice party in the Court of Justice hearing in the Schrems case.

Yours faithfully,

Simon McGarr

McGarr Solicitors

Yesterday, I received a response from the FTC explaining that due to ‘unusual circumstances’ they couldn’t answer my query within the normal time limits because they had to consult with ‘another agency’ which had a ‘substantial interest in the determination of the request’.

The agency is not named.

You can read the full response below

Extension Letter FTC

UPDATE: Here’s 80 odd pages from the FTC of the 400ish they found, by way of a Partial Disclosure in response to this query. It’s pretty illuminating of the view of the US state machinery following the Schrems case.

FTC FOIA Release on Safe Harbour

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