Antonio Giattini

The Fundamental Protection of Personal Data Before the European Court of Justice: The "Schrems" Ruling and the Invalidation of 'Safe Harbour' System

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This paper concerns the decision issued by the European Court of Justice (case C-362/14 of 6 October 2015) on the validity of decision of European Commission, 2000/520/EC, providing the 'safe harbour' system as well as the powers of national supervisory authorities of EU member states with regard to the transfer of personal data of citizens toward the US. The ECJ declares that the Commission's 'safe harbour' decision is invalid and that the national supervisory authorities can examine whether the transfer of a person's data to the third country complies with the requirements of the EU legislation on the protection of that data. Moreover, the paper points out the issues of national security and public interest in "Schrems". The ECJ highlights that the 'safe harbor' system enables interferences, by US public authorities, with the individual fundamental rights, as enshrined by articles 7 and 8 of EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. This because the US law does not limit the access of the public authorities to the data and it does not provide any administrative or judicial means of redress. Finally, the paper highlights two critical points of the judgment. The first one regards the emergence of antiterrorism policies implemented by European countries (especially France and United Kingdom) which imply several violations of personal data, also in the light of ECtHR case law, meanwhile the second one is focused on the future 'safe harbour' agreement, which is currently negotiated by US and EU.


  • Data Protection
  • European Court of Justice
  • Safe Harbour
  • EU Charter of Fundamental Rights
  • National Supervisory Authorities
  • Mass Surveillance


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