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Wed 09 February 2022:

If it can’t keep transferring user data back to the US, Meta has stated it may shut down Facebook and Instagram in Europe.

In its annual report to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the country’s financial authority, Meta warned last Thursday that if no new framework is adopted and the company could no longer use the current model of agreements it would probably have to walk away from the continent.

European regulators are already drafting new rules that will govern how EU residents’ personal information is transmitted across the Atlantic.

Facebook said: “If a new transatlantic data transfer framework is not adopted and we are unable to continue to rely on SCCs (standard contractual clauses) or rely upon other alternative means of data transfers from Europe to the United States, we will likely be unable to offer a number of our most significant products and services, including Facebook and Instagram, in Europe.”

The company added this “would materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.”

“Meta cannot just blackmail the EU into giving up its data protection standards,” European lawmaker Axel Voss said via Twitter, adding that “leaving the EU would be their loss.” Voss has previously written some of the EU’s data protection legislation.

Meta clarified that it thinks it will be able to reach a new agreement this year but if it does not, it stated: “We will likely be unable to offer a number of our most significant products and services, including Facebook and Instagram, in Europe”.

However, Meta said on Monday it had no plans to pull Facebook and Instagram from Europe.

“We have absolutely no desire and no plans to withdraw from Europe, but the simple reality is that Meta, and many other businesses, organisations and services, rely on data transfers between the EU and the US in order to operate global services,” a Meta spokesperson told Euronews Next in a statement.

Like other companies, Meta said it had followed European rules and relied on Standard Contractual Clauses, and appropriate data safeguards to operate a global service.

“Fundamentally, businesses need clear, global rules to protect transatlantic data flows over the long term, and like more than 70 other companies across a wide range of industries, we are closely monitoring the potential impact on our European operations as these developments progress,” the spokesperson added.

Meta could previously use a data transfer framework called Privacy Shield as the legal basis to carry out transatlantic data transfers.

U.S. agencies such as the NSA can theoretically ask internet companies like Facebook and Google to hand over data on an EU citizen and that EU citizen would be none-the-wiser.

But In July 2020, the European Court of Justice annulled the treaty due to violations of data protection. The bloc’s highest legal authority argued the standard does not adequately protect European citizens’ privacy.

As a result, US companies were restricted in sending European user data to the US and have had to rely on SCCs (standard contractual clauses).

The EU and US have said they are working on a new or updated version of the treaty.






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