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  • Marijan Hassan - Tech Journalist

Facebook parent company Meta fined €1.2bn for mishandling data

Facebook’s parent company Meta has been fined €1.2 billion (£1 billion) for failing to ensure the security of people’s data when transferring it between Europe and the US. The fine was issued by Ireland's Data Protection Commission (DPC) and is the largest fine imposed under the EU's General Data Protection Regulation privacy law.

The DPC started investigating Meta after Austrian privacy campaigner, Max Schrems raised a legal dispute following the Edward Snowden revelations saying European users’ data is not sufficiently protected from US intelligence agencies when it is transferred across the Atlantic.

The company has been given six months to stop “the unlawful processing, including storage, in the US” of personal EU data already transferred across the Atlantic. This means the data will need to be deleted from Facebook’s servers.

According to the DPC, Meta broke the standard contractual clauses (SCCs) created by the European Commission highlighting necessary safeguards to protect data that’s being moved outside the EU.

Meta has termed the ruling as “unjustified and necessary” and said it will appeal. The company says it has been “singled out” by the DPC despite thousands of other businesses using the same data transfer processes.

“We are disappointed to have been singled out when using the same legal mechanism as thousands of other companies looking to provide services in Europe,” Nick Clegg, the Meta president of global affairs, and Jennifer Newstead, the Meta chief legal officer wrote in a blog post.

A spokesperson for the European Commission has said a new framework for transatlantic data transfers is being developed and will hopefully be ready by summer. The framework will help provide stability and a more solid legal guideline that US tech firms can follow when handling EU data.

There are no disruptions to Facebook operations right now, but if the new framework is not ready before the 5-month grace period Meta has been given then then Facebook and Instagram may become unavailable in the region.


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