Sunday June 04, 2023

Meta faces billion dollar penalty

Mark Zuckerberg's Meta gets fined by Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner for violating data transfer protocol

By Web Desk
May 22, 2023
This photograph shows the logo of US multinational technology conglomerate Meta, taken on May 22, 2022. — AFP
This photograph shows the logo of US multinational technology conglomerate Meta, taken on May 22, 2022. — AFP

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, was recently fined a massive 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) by Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) on Monday. 

The company has been fined for violating previous court rulings linked to the data transfer of European users to the US.

The DPC has been investigating the matter since 2020.

Meta was previously granted five months to cease the data transfers to the US by The European Union’s (EU) privacy regulator but upon failure to do so, the DPC was advised by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) to collect "an administrative fine in the amount of 1.2 billion euros".

Despite the disproval of the US-EU data transfer pact in 2020, Meta continued the transfers. 

The fine pressed on Meta surpassed the preceding record EU privacy fine by Luxembourg on Amazon in 2021 which stood at 746 million euros.

Meta aims to appeal the ruling, including the "unjustified and unnecessary fine that "sets a dangerous precedent for countless other companies." It will further opt for a stay of the suspension orders through the courts.

Jennifer Newstead, chief legal officer and Meta president of global affairs Nick Clegg in a blog post said, "We intend to appeal both the decision's substance and its orders including the fine, and will seek a stay through the courts to pause the implementation deadlines."

"There is no immediate disruption to Facebook in Europe," they added.

After an agreement last year, Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta is hopeful of the US and EU to adopt a new legal framework to utilize personal data in the upcoming months, which could allow it to continue its data transfer practices.

The case had been ongoing for quite some time with different developments every other month. However, it was later revealed that the DPC originally wanted the company to suspend those who violate data transfers, and said that a fine "would exceed the extent of powers that could be described as being appropriate, proportionate and necessary."

"Ever since Edward Snowden's revelations on US big tech aiding the [National Security Agency] mass surveillance apparatus, Facebook [now Meta] was subject to litigation in Ireland," Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems said.

According to Schrems, many severe sanctions could have been imposed as Meta had "knowingly broken the law to make a profit."

"It took us 10 years of litigation against the Irish DPC to get to this result... and risked millions of procedural costs," he added.