Although the court’s decision is ostensibly about data protection, it inevitably addresses surveillance. The ruling backs up the claim by Schrems that “the law and practice of the United States do not offer sufficient protection against surveillance by the public authorities of the data transferred to that country”. This claim must now be heard and decided upon by the Irish authorities. The development will stretch US-EU relations, which are already misaligned over the right to be forgotten and net neutrality. “The gap between American and European legislation on privacy is at breaking point,” says Mark Skilton of the Warwick Business School in Coventry, UK. Nyst adds that “beyond it being a slap in the face to the US, it sets a great precedent for the legal challenges to mass surveillance happening in Europe”. This is quite ironic as Facebook is coincidentally is pushing for free Internet in the wake of these privacy crisis and scandals! For all the internet’s power to connect people globally, the ruling is a step towards an internet that takes local rights and laws into account. Nyst says that data-protection standards are emerging around the world, providing a crucial component of an internet that is not only hugely useful, but also preserves the privacy of its users. “Law and technology are misfits,” she says. “Law is all about jurisdiction – which area you commit a certain act in. Technology is all about breaking down those divisions.” A global internet with standards for protecting our data may help bridge that gap. Paul Bernal of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK, says the judgement makes it hard to see how it is legal for any personal data gathered in the EU to now be sent to the US for processing. “The ruling basically says US surveillance cannot be allowed to override our fundamental rights, but US law says surveillance must override fundamental rights,” says Bernal. “The EU court is largely saying that indiscriminate gathering of data is enough to interfere with fundamental rights, and therefore you shouldn’t be able to do it.” In a statement on the ruling, Max Schrems said that “US companies that obviously aided US mass surveillance may face serious legal consequences from this ruling when data protection authorities of 28 member states review their cooperation with US spy agencies”. He added that “the average consumer will not see any restrictions in daily use, but will hopefully soon be able to use online services without potentially being subject to mass surveillance”. This is quite a tremendous move on the side of the EU towards users privacy. Hopefully other countries should follow suit.