Meta has been fined a record $1.3 billion by the Irish Data Protection Commission, which oversees Meta operations in the EU over its violation of data transfer rules on May 22. It ordered the social media company, Facebook, to stop transferring the data collected from the users of the European Union to the United States, as reported by the New York Times. The Irish watchdog said that the company didn’t adhere to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the EU and because of this it posed a threat to the fundamental rights and freedoms of European users.
Meta, in its response, said that it will appeal against this decision in court as it will affect a lot of Facebook users around the world. This ruling applies only to Facebook, hence it excludes WhatsApp and Instagram from this penalty. The Irish regulators have given a grace period of five months to Meta to comply with this decision.
GDPR, a major rule governing data privacy, was adopted by the EU five years ago, and the punishment for its violation, which is issued by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, has become one of the most serious issues for any company in today’s times. Authorities claimed that Meta disregarded a ruling made in 2020 by the highest court of the European Union by sending Facebook data over the Atlantic that was not adequately shielded from American surveillance agencies.
Failure to adhere to the European Court of Justice decision in 2020 regarding the EU-US data flow agreement, also known as Privacy Shield, by Meta has led to this huge penalty from Irish Data Protection. According to various reports, Meta is bent on appealing against this decision of the EU and said that the absence of data flow from different regions will lead to the internet being risked with “national and regional silos" which can affect the global economy and induce a lack of services among different nations which are shared till now.
“We appeal these decisions and will immediately seek a stay with the courts," said Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, and Jennifer Newstead, chief legal officer at the company.
In 2020, the European Court of Justice invalidated the Privacy Shield, an agreement between the EU and the US regarding data flows. A new data flow agreement that the EU and US are now negotiating may be announced later this year. With this decision in the background, Meta would be hoping that this EU-US data privacy agreement would be approved and instated before the Irish regulator’s deadline come in place.