The European Union has ordered Facebook parent company Meta to pay a record fine of 1.2 billion US dollars. The reason: data protection violations. In addition, Meta services Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook will no longer be allowed to transfer data to the USA.
Facebook parent company Meta is to pay a fine of 1.2 billion US dollars for data protection violations. This was announced by the Irish data protection authority DPC in an official statement on Monday, 22 May 2023. The background to the decision is an almost ten-year-old dispute with Austrian data protection activists Max Schrems.
Is Meta withdrawing from Europe?
Schrems had filed a lawsuit against Facebook after the Edward Sowden revelations in 2012. The reason: the fear that US intelligence services could access the data of European users.
In the wake of the Schrems II ruling, the European Court of Justice therefore declared the so-called Privacy Shield, an agreement on data transfer between the EU and the USA, invalid in 2020.
Meta then repeatedly stated that the group could be forced to withdraw its services from Europe. Meanwhile, the DPC’s current decision sets a new record. This is because the previous maximum fine for data protection violations is 746 million euros against Amazon.
Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook are not allowed to transfer data to the USA
In January 2023, the Irish data protection authority Meta had already ordered Amazon to pay a fine of 390 million US dollars. The reason at the time was that the US company had forced Facebook and Instagram users to agree to personalised advertising.
Meanwhile, the current record fine is only against Facebook. However, the DPC also ordered Meta to stop the transfer of personal data from the EU to the US for its Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp services within five months.
Meta reportedly plans to appeal the DPC’s decision. Since such legal proceedings often take months or even years, a new data protection agreement between the EU and the US could already be in place by then. However, experts believe that a new agreement cannot undo previous violations.