Facebook Owner Meta to Challenge Historic €1.2 Billion Fine

In response to the record-breaking €1.2 billion ($1.75 billion CAD) fine imposed by the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC), overseen by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB), Meta Platforms has announced its intention to challenge the decision in court.

The penalty, related to Meta’s data transfer practices between the EU and the US, was branded as “unjustified and unnecessary” by the tech giant on Monday.

Nick Clegg, President of Global Affairs, and Jennifer Newstead, Chief Legal Officer at Meta, emphasized that data transfers across borders are critical to the operation of countless businesses and public services. They warned that limitations on these transfers could disrupt the global open internet, risking a shift towards national and regional data silos that could impede the global economy and hinder access to shared services.

Clegg and Newstead noted that the conflict isn’t unique to Meta’s privacy practices, but rather a clash between US data access rules and European privacy rights. Policymakers are expected to reconcile this issue by summer. Despite the dispute, they assured that Facebook’s operations in Europe wouldn’t be immediately affected.

In 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) invalidated the Privacy Shield, a primary legal framework enabling EU-US data transfers, creating substantial uncertainty for thousands of organizations, including Meta.

The court did uphold the validity of an alternative mechanism, Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs), subject to certain safeguards. Like many businesses, Meta has used SCCs under the belief of their compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Today, the DPC presented its findings regarding Meta’s use of SCCs for transferring Facebook user data between the EU and the US. Despite acknowledging that Meta had acted in good faith and didn’t warrant a fine, the DPC was overruled by the EDPB.

What does this mean, simply put? The European Union thinks Meta did not follow the law when it came to transferring data to the U.S., but Mark Zuckerberg’s company disagrees. The outcome of this decision could impact how personal data is shared between countries around the world.

Meta has announced its plan to appeal these decisions and will promptly seek a stay from the courts to pause the implementation deadlines, considering the potential harm these orders may cause, including to the millions of daily Facebook users.