On Monday, Facebook and Instagram owner Meta received a staggering $1.3 billion fine from the European Union in another data trust (or lack thereof) scandal.
The EU wants Meta to stop transferring data from Facebook users in Europe to the United States. Why? Well…because most countries don’t trust each other with sensitive information. People also don’t (and probably shouldn’t) trust tech companies with most of their personal information. The EU does not know how the US will use the information received from EU Facebook users. The group is concerned that Facebook data could be used to spy on its citizens.
In a statement released on Monday, Meta says the record-high $1.3 billion fine imposed is “unnecessary and disproportionate”.
It says though the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) had initially acknowledged that Meta had been ‘acting in good faith and that a fine was unjustified’ it was overruled by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) at the last minute.
Meta accuses the EU of singling it out, noting how it had been using the same legal mechanisms as other countries that offer services in the EU.
“This decision is flawed, unjustified and sets a dangerous precedent for the countless other companies transferring data between the EU and US,” says Meta
Policymakers in the US and EU are in an ongoing conflict-resolution process as they attempt to find ways to securely transfer data between the two countries.
Companies have been facing major data transfer uncertainties after the EU pulled out of an agreement that regulated cross-atlantic data transfer.
In its statement, Meta refers to President Biden and Commission President Von der Leyen’s announcement in March 2022 where they said they had reached an agreement on the principles of a new framework that would allow for the free flow of data between the two nations. It says policymakers have also agreed to cooperate and implement the Data Privacy Framework.
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Meta says the ruling affects ordinary users and organisations that rely on the transatlantic transfer of data and the free flow of data to support services in the healthcare, telecoms, and education industries.
“We will appeal the ruling, including the unjustified and unnecessary fine, and seek a stay of the orders through the courts.”
The ruling comes as TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, is also facing data trust issues with other countries. This year, TikTok opened data centres in the US and the EU so user data is stored in their respective countries.