In a recent ruling, the European Court of Justice struck down Safe Harbor, which dictated the rules for transatlantic data flow between the United States and the European Union. The invalidation of Safe Harbor carries significant consequence for American e-commerce firms who operate in Europe. Companies like Google and Facebook—as well as the U.S. administration—now must make high-profile decisions in response to the ruling.

Europe has broad legislation protecting the personal information of E.U. citizens from being exploited by businesses. The U.S., in contrast, only codifies privacy against government institutions and for certain high-sensitivity data (e.g. health records, etc.) Safe Harbor’s “principles” are more flexible extensions of the E.U.’s privacy laws; violations of Safe Harbor could result in sanctions from a self-regulatory organization or the Federal trade Commission.

When Europe’s highest court invalidated the agreement, it was under the premise that European citizens were being manipulated by U.S. tech companies as well as by the U.S. government. The ruling was a reflection of a recent decision made by an Irish court on Safe Harbor’s illegality. Any new agreement drafted will have to contain more stringent privacy rules, and will therefore create more limitations for U.S. firms.

Facebook and Google’s immediate options include continuing business practices in a time of legal uncertainty, shutting down their European operations (resulting in major loss), or changing the business model to include more data collection centers in Europe. The last alternative would require companies to keep European and American data completely separate, with the consequence of economic inefficiency.

Article via The Washington Post, 6 October 2015

Photo: Bandiera dell’Unione (EU Flag) via Giampaolo Squarcina [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

A disbarred New Mexico Judge is refusing to step down after being disbarred.

Corrales Municipal Judge Luis Quintana was disbarred on July 1st by the New Mexico supreme court. The disbarment was for failing to turn over a settlement check to a client from a workers compensation case. The complaint was filed by Maria Ramos, one of the Judge’s former clients. A committee found that he used the money to pay debts that he owed to other clients instead of paying Ms. Ramos. The Judge contends that his disbarment has nothing to do with his job, therefore he has no intention of resigning.

Judge Quintana told the Albuquerque Journal that the case that resulted in the courts decision to disbar him happened before he was elected. Because of this, Quintana states that he is fully able to carry out his term, which ends in 2016. Despite his claims, the Judge is facing pressure to resign.

“People like myself who are lawyers or retired lawyers are quite alarmed, not only that it happened, but that it’s taken several months for it to become public knowledge…”, says Mayor Phil Gasteyer.  Mayor Gasteyer raised the issue of the disbarred Judge at a recent meeting of the village council. Since Quintana was elected to his position as Judge, he cannot be forced to vacate it. The Mayor plans to ask Judge Quintana for his resignation.

In response to the controversy Quintana stated, “Are people going to be disappointed? Sure. I’m disappointed, too. I’m disappointed because I didn’t serve Ms. Ramos as great as I should have, you know. But that was one instance in 30 years.”


Article via ABAJournal, 7 October 2015

Photo: Judges Desk Partial Desat via Matthew Paulson[Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]