The German government has unexpectedly announced plans to investigate Google and Facebook for illegal data transfers. This decision means serious headaches for the two American tech giants, as well as hundreds of other tech companies that also operate in Germany.
According to a report in Der Spiegel, Germany’s commissioner for data privacy and freedom of information, Johannes Caspar, made the decision to investigate Facebook and Google. His decision takes place weeks after the European Commission essentially dismantled the long-standing “Safe Harbor” agreement that let foreign tech companies store data on users in the European Union. As of press time, no successor agreement to Safe Harbor exists and tech companies based in the United States with European users have no protocols to figure out whether they are operating legally or not.
In a statement, Caspar said that “Anyone who wants to remain untouched by the legal and political implications of the judgement, should in the future consider storing personal data only on servers within the European Union.” However, this move would mean massive financial and logistical headaches for tech firms, as well as give precedents to foreign governments such as China’s and Russia’s that hope to strong-arm foreign firms into storing information regarding their citizens on their soil.