(AGI/EFE) Luxembourg, Oct 6 - European citizens can askFacebook and other web giants not to store their members' datain the U.S. after a decision by the European Court of Justiceon Tuesday. This ruling overturns a 2000 decision by theEuropean Commission which said it was confident that the U.S.would guarantee an adequate level of protection of personaldata, thus allowing the transfer of data of European citizens. The highest court in the Community accepted the request atthe centre of a long legal battle against Facebook opened in2011 by an Austrian law student Max Schrems, after the scandalof the NSA surveillance programme revealed by American EdwardSnowden. The ruling sets a precedent that will also affectother U.S. technology giants in Europe, such as Apple, Googleand Microsoft. According to Community law, personal data mayonly be transmitted to a third country if it ensures adequateprotection. The Court pointed out that in the U.S.national security needs prevail "over the Safe Harbouragreement" for the private data of European citizens, whichmeans that the biggest web companies are obliged to share dataand that this constitutes a risk of "interference by theAmerican public authorities in peoples' fundamental rights"."Legislation that allows public authorities generalised accessto the content of electronic communications must be considereddetrimental to the essential content of the fundamental rightto respect for private life," the Court explained. Facebookcollects data from its European users on a server that is basedin Ireland and sends it from there to the United States. Withthis ruling the European Court has given Ireland's regulatorthe authority to decide whether Facebook's EU-to-US transfersshould be suspended. .