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European Commission sued for violating data protection laws it created

A German citizen is suing the European Commission for transferring citizens’ data from one of the Commission’s websites to the United States.

In a twist of irony, the executive branch of the European Union (EU), the European Commission (EC), is being sued for violating the personal data protection laws it created.

According to Europäische Gesellschaft für Datenschutz (EuGD), a Germany-based organization supporting consumers in the enforcement of legal claims over breaches of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a German consumer believes his right to the protection of personal data was violated.

While the GDPR does not apply to European institutions directly, they have to follow a similar law that closely resembles the restrictive nature of the GDPR. Both sets of legislation were created with the help of the Commission.

“When calling up the website […] and registering for an event offered there, the US cloud service in its function as web host automatically transferred personal information such as the IP address to a so-called unsafe third country without an adequate level of data protection, where it was also processed at least in part,” reads the EuGD’s press release.

EuGD claims that the website for the Conference of the Future of Europe is hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS), which means that anyone registering for the event transfers their IP address to the United States.

However, data transfers from the EU to the US were deemed illegal by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) in the Schrems II ruling. The court decided that US data protection laws are inadequate, allowing the American authorities to access EU citizen data with little judicial supervision.

The lawsuit also states the Commission-owned website integrates the Facebook login service. Ireland’s data privacy regulator is investigating whether Meta-owned Facebook and Instagram transfer EU citizen data to the States according to European regulations.

According to Thomas Bindl, the founder of EuGD, the lawsuit against the Commission is a signal for data protection in Europe, showing that everyone must adhere to the rules.

“Even if a ruling by the General court would not provide any direct guidelines for the jurisprudence in Germany, Spain or other countries, we see great significance in it. It would be a clear sign that everyone must adhere to the data protection requirements,“ Bindl said.

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