June 18, 2021

Compliance: at the moment

📧 COMPLIANCE: LAW IS SLOW, BUT FIRM. BY ITS JUDGMENT OF JUNE 15, 2021, "FACEBOOK", THE EUROPEAN UNION COURT OF JUSTICE WIDELY INTERPRETS THE POWER OF NATIONAL AUTHORITIES SINCE IT SERVES THE PROTECTION OF PEOPLE IN THE DIGITAL SPACE

by Marie-Anne Frison-Roche

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► Law is slow, but firm. By its judgment of June 15, 2021, Facebook , the European Union Court of Justice widely interprets the powers of National Authorities, since they serve the people protection in the digital space (➡️📝(CJEU, June 15, 2021, Facebook)

 

Law is slow. The reproach is so often made. But the bottom line is that, in the noise of changing regulations, it establishes clear and firm principles, letting everyone know what to stand for. The more the world is changing, the more Law is required.

When Law degenerates into regulations, then it is up to the Judge to make Law. "Supreme Courts" appear, de jure as in the United States, de facto as in the European Union by the Court of Justice of the European Union which lays down the principles, before everyone else, as it did for the "right to be forgotten" in 2014 (➡️📝CJEU, Google Spain, May 13, 2014), and then with the impossibility of transferring data to third countries without the consent of the people concerned (➡️📝CJEU, Schrems, October 6, 2015).

Facebook litigation is kind of a novel. The company knows that it is above all to the Courts that it speaks. In Europe, it is doing it behind the walls of the Irish legal space, from which it would like to be able not to leave before better dominating the global digital space, while national regulatory authorities want to take it to protect citizens.

There is therefore a technical question of "jurisdictional competence". The texts have provided for this, but Law is clumsy because it was designed for a world still anchored in the ground: the GDPR of 2016 therefore organizes cooperation between national regulatory authorities through a "one-stop-shop", forcing the authorities to relinquish jurisdiction so that the case is only handled by the "lead" National Authority. This avoids splintering and contradiction. But before the adoption of the GDPR, the Belgian data protection regulator had opened a procedure against Facebook concerning cookies. The "one-stop-shop" mechanism, introduced in 2016, is therefore only mentioned before the Brussels Court of Appeal, which is asked to relinquish jurisdiction in favor of the Irish Regulatory Authority, since the company has in Europe its head office in this country. The Court of Appeal referred to the CJEU for a preliminary ruling.

By its judgment of June 15, 2021 (➡️📝CJUE, Facebook, June 15, 2021), it follows the conclusions of its Advocate General and maintains the jurisdiction of the Belgian National Regulator because, even after the GDPR, the case still undergoes national treatment. In this decision, the most important is its reasoning and the principle adopted. The Court notes that the "one-stop-shop" rule is not absolute and that the national regulatory authority has the power to maintain its jurisdiction, in particular if cooperation between national authorities is difficult.

Even more, will it not one day have to adjust Law more radically? We need to consider the fact that the digital space is not bound by borders and that the ambition of "cross-border cooperation" is ill-suited. It is of course on this observation of inefficiency, consubstantial with the digital space, that the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) was designed and set up, which is not a cooperation, nor a "one-stop shop", but a body of the Union, acting locally for the Union, directly linked to Compliance concerns (➡️📝Frison-Roche, M.-A. "The European Public Prosecutor's Office is a considerable contribution to Compliance Law", 2021 and ., European Public Prosecutor's Office comes on stage: the company having itself become a private prosecutor, are we going towards an alliance of all prosecutors ?, 2021).

So that's what we should be inspired by.

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