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Business News/ News / World/  Meta fined $1.3 billion by EU for sending user data to US: Report

Meta fined $1.3 billion by EU for sending user data to US: Report

Facebook owner Meta Platforms Inc has been fined $1.3 billion by European Union privacy regulators for sending user information to the United States, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Meta Platforms Inc (REUTERS)Premium
FILE PHOTO: Meta Platforms Inc (REUTERS)

The Facebook owner Meta Platforms Inc was hit with a record fine amounting to $1.3 billion by European Union privacy regulators for sending user data to the United States. 

The development was reported by Wall Street Journal on Monday. Just after the judgement was announced Meta assured that there would be no disruptions to access to social media platform Facebook in Europe.

The Irish Data Protection Commission on Monday announced their judgement on Monday citing the fact that Meta Platforms' continued data transfers to the US didn’t address “the risks to the fundamental rights and freedoms" of people whose data was being transferred across the Atlantic. 

The Irish Data Protection Commission, which acts on behalf of the European Union, said the European Data Protection Board had ordered it to collect "an administrative fine in the amount of 1.2 billion euros".

On top of the fine, which eclipses a €746 million EU privacy penalty previously doled out to Inc., Meta was given five months to “suspend any future transfer of personal data to the US" and six months to stop “the unlawful processing, including storage, in the US" of transferred personal EU data.

Following the judgement, Meta also noted that they would appeal to the Irish DPC data transfer ruling, including ‘unjustified and unnecessary fine’. The social media giant also noted that they will seek a stay of orders through the courts. 

The judgement is just another brick in the saga of long-running turmoil that has seen several big corporates plunge into legal vaccums. 

In 2020, the EU’s top court annulled an EU-US pact regulating transatlantic data flows over fears citizens’ data wasn’t safe once it arrived on US servers. While judges didn’t strike down an alternative tool based on contractual clauses, their doubts about American data protection quickly led to a preliminary order from the Irish authority telling Facebook it could no longer move data to the US via this other method either.

Nonetheless, the data-transfers ban for Meta was not unexpected, which coerced the US social media giant to threaten a total withdrawal from the EU. But its impact has now been muted by the transition phase given in the decision and the prospect of a new EU-US data flows agreement that could already be operational by the middle of this year.

EU regulators in December unveiled proposals to replace the previous “Privacy Shield" pact that had been torpedoed by the EU’s Court of Justice. This followed months of negotiations with the US, which yielded an executive order by President Joe Biden and US pledges to ensure that EU citizens’ data is safe once it’s shipped across the Atlantic.

The Meta fine coincides with the fifth anniversary of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, widely seen as the world’s benchmark for privacy. Since May 2018, regulators in the 27-nation EU have had the power to wield fines of as much as 4% of a company’s annual revenue for the most serious violations. The Irish watchdog morphed overnight into the lead privacy regulator for some of the biggest tech firms with an EU base in the country, such as Meta and Apple Inc.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Published: 22 May 2023, 02:34 PM IST
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