Meta, the social media platform, is expected to receive a substantial privacy fine for mishandling data transfers to the United States. The penalty, which will exceed the €746 million fine imposed on Amazon in 2021, is anticipated to be confirmed by Ireland’s data protection watchdog.
Unspecified Record-Setting Fine:
The exact amount of the record-setting fine has not been disclosed. While the specific size of the penalty remains unknown, sources familiar with the matter state that it will exceed the aforementioned fine imposed on Amazon. These individuals, who spoke anonymously due to the sensitivity of internal deliberations, could not provide further details.
Demands for Compliance:
In addition to the privacy fine, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission is expected to include specific demands in its ruling. One such demand is for Meta’s Facebook to cease utilizing standard contract clauses, complex legal instruments used for transferring EU data to the US. These requirements are likely to be published in the fall.
Background and Legal Battle:
The upcoming decision stems from Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013. Snowden, a former U.S. National Security Agency contractor, exposed how American authorities repeatedly accessed individuals’ information through tech giants such as Facebook and Google. Max Schrems, an Austrian privacy campaigner, initiated a legal challenge against Facebook for its failure to protect privacy rights. This legal battle triggered a protracted dispute over the legality of EU data transfers to the US.
Insufficient Protections in the US:
Europe’s highest court has consistently maintained that the United States lacks adequate checks to protect Europeans’ personal information. Recently, the U.S. updated its internal legal safeguards to address these concerns and provide greater assurances to the EU regarding data access by American intelligence agencies.
Meta and Data Protection Commission Response:
Meta has declined to comment on the impending fine and ruling. Meanwhile, the Irish Data Protection Commission did not provide a response prior to publication.
Importance of safeguarding data during international transfers:
As Meta faces a record privacy fine, it underscores the importance of safeguarding data during international transfers. The ruling by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission serves as a reminder of the ongoing efforts to ensure the protection of individuals’ personal information in an increasingly digital world.
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Author: Shernaz Jaehnel, Attorney at Law, CDPO/CIPP/CIPM, Compliance, ESG & Risk Manager