Facebook has failed in its bid to prevent its lead EU data protection regulator from pushing ahead with a decision on whether to order suspension of its EU-U.S. data flows.

The Irish High Court has just issued a ruling dismissing the company’s challenge to the Irish Data Protection Commission’s (DPC) procedures.

The case has huge potential operational significance for Facebook, which may be forced to store European users’ data locally if it’s ordered to stop taking their information to the U.S. for processing.

Last September the Irish data watchdog made a preliminary order warning Facebook it may have to suspend EU-U.S. data flows. Facebook responded by filing for a judicial review and obtaining a stay on the DPC’s procedure. That block is now being unblocked.

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