Apps Alliance Critical of Rushed CJEU Safe Harbour Ruling

Contact: Claudia Trivilino

Apps Alliance Critical of Rushed CJEU Safe Harbour Ruling

Decision Puts European Digital Startups and Small Innovators At Risk

(Brussels, 6 October 2015) - In a blow to small digital businesses and in contrast to many efforts of the European Commission, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) today ruled that the 2000 EU/US Data Protection Safe Harbour Agreement is invalid. The CJEU decision in the so-called “Schrems” case (C-362/14), comes as the EU has become increasingly critical of EU citizens’ data being transferred outside the EU.

“EU citizens should have confidence in the way their data is collected and used globally,” said Apps Alliance EU Policy Director Catriona Meehan. “But this decision ignores the Commission’s ongoing and productive Safe Harbour negotiations with the U.S. Government as well as the likelihood of an immediate and negative impact on investment and global growth opportunities for European companies. This decision appears to target large American and international tech companies, but it is startups and small innovators throughout the EU that will more likely be swept away by a breakdown in Safe Harbour rules.”

“As part of its Digital Single Market strategy, the EU is seeking to create a business environment that favours innovation and allows startups to flourish,” continued Meehan. “It has been estimated that the lion’s share of Safe Harbour signatories are SMEs. It’s crucial not to overlook small companies and startups that typically don’t have the time, money, or expertise to deal with such a damaging setback in the way they operate and do business. Information management and data innovation is often the difference between success and failure for most startups. Denying them the lifeblood of their operations would be a huge step backwards for the EU.”

The Application Developers Alliance, whose membership includes more than 200 companies and several dozen headquartered in Europe, questioned the unusual – and unnecessary – speed of the decision. The CJEU typically releases its decision 3-6 months after receiving the Advocate General’s Advisory Opinion. This case it took just under 2 weeks. It has been suggested that the decision was deliberately rushed in order to put pressure on EU/US negotiators to agree on an improved Safe Harbour.

“We are concerned that the CJEU has rushed into a decision that jeopardises the operations and aspirations of thousands of well-intended small businesses,” Meehan said. “If government surveillance is the crux of the concern, this should be dealt with separately from Safe Harbour and with European startups and small businesses in mind, rather than inadvertently harming them.”


The Apps Alliance is a non-profit global membership organization that supports developers as creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs. We promote app industry growth and advocate on behalf of our members on public policy and industry issues. The Apps Alliance serves more than 36,000 individual members and more than 200 companies, including app publishers, platforms, wireless carriers, hardware manufacturers, ad networks, enterprise tools and service providers.