Europe’s highest court ruled on Tuesday that a widely used international agreement for moving people’s digital data between the European Union and the United States was invalid.
The decision, by the European Court of Justice, throws into doubt how seamlessly global technology giants like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google can continue to collect, manage and analyze online information from their millions of users in the 28-member bloc. The court decreed that the data-transfer agreement was invalid as of Tuesday’s ruling.
Although most big multinational companies and their lawyers have already secured side agreements with the European Union, which should allow them to continue moving data for now, the court’s ruling could hold significant implications down the road. It will empower data-privacy regulators in each of the bloc’s nations to evaluate how data is moved from their countries to the United States, and it will permit national authorities to impose tougher restrictions on specific data transfers.