Meta Hit with €1.2 Billion Fine for Data Transfers in EU-US

Mark Zuckerberg Founder and CEO of Meta owner of Facebook

Meta, the parent company of Facebook owned by Mark Zuckerberg, has been fined €1.2 billion for mishandling people's data during transfers between Europe and the United States. 

The Irish Data Protection Commission issued the fine, which is the largest ever imposed under the General Data Protection Regulation in the European Union. 

The GDPR outlines the rules that companies must adhere to when transferring user data outside the European Union. 

Meta plans to appeal the ruling, stating that it is "unjustified and unnecessary."

The basis of the decision concerns the transfer of data to the US. 

Although legal contracts set up by the European Commission guarantee the continued protection of personal data when transferred outside of Europe, concerns remain that such data flows expose Europeans to weaker privacy laws and US intelligence agencies' access.

This ruling is a serious precedent for numerous companies transferring data between the EU and the US. 

Most large companies use complex networks of data transfers that include email addresses, phone numbers, and financial information to recipients abroad. 

Meta claims that the fine is unfair, stating that thousands of other companies use the same legal mechanism to provide services in Europe. 

The decision, according to Nick Clegg, Facebook's head, is flawed and unjustified and sets a serious precedent for countless other companies transferring data between the EU and the US. 

The fine follows a decade-long battle over the legitimacy of transferring EU data to the US, sparked by Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems's lawsuit against Facebook. 

The European Court of Justice has repeatedly stated that Washington lacksadequate oversight to protect Europeans' information.

In 2020, the court ruled the data transfer agreement between the EU and the US invalid. 

This decision has led to calls for fundamental restructuring of Meta's systems, with Schrems stating that Meta would have to do so unless US surveillance laws are reformed. 

Although Schrems is happy to see the decision after years of litigation, he believes the fine could have been much higher. 

The US has recently updated its internal legal protection procedures to give the EU greater assurances that US intelligence agencies will follow the new rules governing access to data. 

However, the Irish Data Protection Commission has also fined the Meta-owned WhatsApp application for transparency violations, and Amazon was fined for violating EU privacy standards in 2021.

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