Facebook parent company Meta has been fined a record €1.2 billion by the European Union for failing to follow the EU’s strict privacy rules. This is the latest harsh financial penalty imposed by the European Union on the US tech giant.
- The decision was made by the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC), Meta’s main regulator in the EU, given that the company’s regional headquarters are in Dublin, Politico first reported.
- It’s the largest fine imposed under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which has hit companies like Amazon and Google before.
- The DPC said its investigation into Meta concluded that the company failed to consider risks to the “fundamental rights and freedoms” of EU citizens whose data it transferred to the United States.
- In addition to the standard fine, the regulator ordered Meta to suspend “any future transfer of personal data” to the US within five months.
- Meta was also given six months to end the “unlawful processing” and storage of EU residents’ personal data in the US.
The DPC’s decision is part of a broader standoff between the European Union and US technology companies over cross-border data flows. Technology companies have long argued that the free flow of data across borders is essential to the global internet and that attempts to block it would lead to web fragmentation and dramatically increase costs. In 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union struck down an agreement on data flows between the United States and the European Union over concerns about the surveillance practices of US law enforcement and intelligence services. Since then, US and European officials have been working together on a new data flow agreement, which is expected to be finalized later this year. Left in limbo in the meantime, the US tech giants have turned to other methods of transmitting data, including so-called Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs). However, the DPC investigation revealed that Meta’s use of these clauses did not make it possible to mitigate the risks highlighted by the ECJ decision.
In its statement, the DPC indicated that it did not agree with the fine imposed on Meta, but was forced to enforce it due to a decision by the European Union’s European Data Protection Committee (EDPS). The EDPS’ intervention came after the DPC’s initial decision in the case – which only suspended the Facebook data feed – was met with opposition from four other EU national regulators, who called for a fine.
Translated article from the American magazine Forbes – Author: Siladitya Ray
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