Meta fined record $1.3 billion by EU over handling of Facebook user data

Meta fined record $1.3 billion by EU over handling of Facebook user data

Picture by JOSH EDELSON/AFP through Getty Photos

European Union knowledge regulators have hit Meta with a $1.3 billion high quality (about €1.2 billion) and ordered the corporate to stop transferring EU Fb person knowledge to the US by October. The high quality exceeds Amazon’s $886 million high quality from the EU for knowledge safety violations in 2021.

Meta says it plans to attraction the ruling, and looking for a keep of the order.

In 2013, US whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked extremely categorized details about the Nationwide Safety Company’s international surveillance packages, sparking discussions about Fb’s knowledge dealing with insurance policies. Snowden’s revelations disclosed that Fb offered the NSA and different US authorities companies with European customers’ private knowledge.

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Instantly after the whistleblowing, Austrian lawyer and privateness activist Max Schrems started petitioning the EU courts to research additional Fb’s knowledge transfers from the EU to the US. 

Since then, EU regulators have made efforts to cease tech firms from transferring European person knowledge to different international locations. The EU has a few of the most well-incorporated knowledge safety legal guidelines that cowl each citizen in each nation that belongs to the EU. The EU’s Basic Information Safety Regulation (GDPR) regulates how a lot and how much private knowledge leaves the EU.

The GDPR has clauses that permit tech firms like Fb to function throughout the EU beneath the situation that EU person knowledge stays protected, even when it leaves the EU. However the legal guidelines are complicated and typically tough to implement when EU net surfers use American social media websites, because the US has no federal legal guidelines to guard person knowledge. 

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For the previous few years, the EU and the U.S. have tried — with no success – to seek out settlement on the right way to deal with EU person knowledge. Now, the courts are saying Fb violated the GDPR’s clauses by permitting EU Fb customers’ knowledge to be surveilled by the US. authorities. 

The Irish watchdog, Eire’s Information Safety Fee, is Meta’s major privateness regulator throughout the EU as a result of the corporate is headquartered in Dublin. Along with the financial high quality, Meta was ordered to cease sending EU person knowledge to the US. by October and to restructure its knowledge storage strategies by November to adjust to the EU’s privateness guidelines.

In accordance with the Fee, Meta should cease the “illegal processing, together with storage, within the US,” which implies Meta must delete all the EU person knowledge it has. 

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Till 2020, Meta and the EU had an settlement about the right way to deal with person knowledge beneath a deal known as Privateness Protect. Privateness Protect pertained to hundreds of tech, auto, and monetary firms and dictated how EU knowledge was transferred to the US.

However in 2020, Privateness Protect was struck down by the EU’s high court docket, ruling that the settlement nonetheless allowed the US authorities to entry EU person knowledge. With out Privateness Protect and with no new settlement, Meta’s destiny within the EU is unclear. 

Late final 12 months, The European Fee introduced that the EU and the US have been drafting one other deal like Privateness Protect, however this deal would come with extra authorized protections and safeguards for EU person knowledge. 

Nonetheless, like several piece of laws, drafting an settlement that each events are proud of will take time and won’t be prepared earlier than Meta’s October deadline to stop knowledge transfers. 

In Meta’s newest incomes report, the corporate stated it could should cease providing Fb in Europe, “which might materially and adversely have an effect on our enterprise, monetary situation, and outcomes of operations.” The corporate says that to proceed working within the EU, a deal between the EU and the US about person knowledge storage should happen.

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However based on EU lawmaker Axel Voss, Meta “can’t simply blackmail the EU into giving up its knowledge safety requirements,” he tweeted in response to Meta.

Some consultants say that though Meta’s $1.3 billion high quality is hefty and the most important in EU knowledge privateness swimsuit historical past, the cash isn’t Meta’s greatest subject. Meta should reimagine its knowledge switch insurance policies, which can show tough because the authorized framework surrounding the problem is nonexistent within the US.

“This order to delete knowledge is mostly a headache for Meta,” stated Johnny Ryan, senior fellow on the Irish Council for Civil Liberties. “It is rather exhausting to see how will probably be capable of adjust to that order.”

Then again, some say the big high quality exhibits tech firms that knowledge privateness is one thing the EU takes very severely.

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“The unprecedented high quality is a robust sign to organizations that critical infringements have far-reaching penalties,” stated Andrea Jelinek, the chairwoman of the European Information Safety Board.


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