Meta has copped one other enormous nice from regulators, with the European Data Protection Board (EDPU) hitting Meta with a €1.2 billion penalty – equal to $1.3 billion USD – for transferring EU person knowledge again to the US with out express permission or ample protections in place.
The nice, the biggest of its type in historical past, pertains to Meta’s knowledge transfers since 2020, when the EU carried out its extra stringent GDPR regulations. The GDPR provides customers extra management over their private knowledge and the way it’s used, and its implementation meant that Meta would wish to take extra definitive measures to guard EU citizen info.
Meta has repeatedly famous that its laws on this entrance are spelled out inside its Phrases of Service, however Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems argued that this was not in compliance with the intent of the EU coverage, and subsequently uncovered EU customers to knowledge surveillance within the US, thus breaking worldwide legislation, and resulting in this newest nice.
Meta has additionally been ordered to carry its knowledge transfers into compliance with the GDPR, or face potential suspension within the area.
As per EDPU:
“The EDPB discovered that Meta IE’s infringement could be very critical because it considerations transfers which might be systematic, repetitive and steady. Fb has hundreds of thousands of customers in Europe, so the amount of private knowledge transferred is very large. The unprecedented nice is a robust sign to organizations that critical infringements have far-reaching penalties.”
In response, Meta has mentioned that it’ll appeal the decision, whereas additionally highlighting the dangers of fragmenting the online because of this strategy.
“With out the power to switch knowledge throughout borders, the web dangers being carved up into nationwide and regional silos, proscribing the worldwide financial system and leaving residents in several international locations unable to entry most of the shared providers we’ve got come to depend on. That’s why offering a sound authorized foundation for the switch of information between the EU and the US has been a political precedence on each side of the Atlantic for a few years.”
Meta says that it has been working in good religion with EU regulators on a new Information Privateness Framework, which might allow a extra collaborative decision to the difficulty, whereas additionally recognizing that Meta has acted in good religion in complying with present legal guidelines.
However now, Meta says, the EDPU has gone in opposition to this, in issuing a nice based mostly on what it claims is an unfair studying of its efforts.
It’s a serious blow for the corporate, at a time when it’s already reeling from the worldwide downturn in advert spend, and restrictions on knowledge assortment because of Apple’s iOS 14 replace. Meta’s culled thousands of jobs over the past year, and you may solely think about that this new nice will solely squeeze the corporate additional, because it continues to invest heavily in Zuckerberg’s metaverse vision.
And the ache might not be over for Meta but. Along with immediately’s nice, Meta may additionally be up for civil litigation, because of an upcoming change in EU legislation, whereas it might additionally face yet one more significant loss in ad revenue because of any suspensions which will stem from this ruling.
As such, it’s no shock to see Meta difficult the nice. However authorized specialists don’t see any possible way for Meta to keep away from paying, or settling with the EU to a major diploma.
It’s additionally attention-grabbing from an information switch perspective, amid broader debate round TikTok’s potential hyperlinks to the Chinese language Authorities. As Meta notes, shifts like this threat splintering the web, and siloing off totally different areas into their very own on-line fiefdoms, which might make future interplay extra restricted.
That could possibly be the top results of rulings like this – although it’s price additionally noting that Zuckerberg himself has, prior to now, made efforts to get TikTok restricted in the US on related grounds (although Zuckerberg has since famous that banning the app would set a ‘really bad long-term precedent’).
The following step might be a protracted court docket battle, as Meta seeks to scale back the penalty. However finally, it does appear that Meta should pay, whereas it’ll additionally have to replace its EU insurance policies in keeping with the ruling.