Europe Faces Possible Facebook, Instagram Blackout Amid Irish Order

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Europeans may no longer have access to Meta Platforms‘ (NASDAQ:META) Facebook and Instagram. Ireland’s privacy regulator continued its push against the company’s structure that involves user information flowing from Europe into the U.S.

Irish Regulators Crack Down On Facebook Parent Meta

On Thursday, the Irish Data Protection Commission told its European counterparts that it will block Facebook parent Meta from sending user data from Europe to the U.S. According to Politico, the draft decision amounts to a crackdown on the company’s last resort from a legal standpoint to keep transferring vast quantities of data from Europe to the U.S.

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The U.S. tech giant has been battling Irish regulators and European privacy activists in court for years. In 2020, the European Court of Justice annulled Facebook’s Privacy Shield pact that allowed for data to flow from the EU to the U.S. The move came due to concerns about U.S. surveillance practices.

The ruling also made it more difficult for Meta and other U.S. firms to use another legal tool called standard contractual clauses, which they commonly use to transfer personal data to the U.S. Thursday’s decision from the Irish regulator forces Facebook to stop using such clauses as well.

Facebook, Instagram And Other Meta Platforms May Go Black In Europe

Meta has warned repeatedly that it would shutter Facebook, Instagram and many of its other services in Europe in the event of such a decision. In March, the company told the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in a filing that it will likely be “unable to offer a number of our most significant products and services… in Europe” if it can’t rely on any means of data transfers from Europe to the U.S.

Politico warned that the blocking order from Irish regulators would cause problems for other major companies as well if European national data protection regulators confirm it. However, EU and U.S. officials are negotiating a new data-transfer text that would allow Meta and other companies to keep transferring data across the Atlantic, irrespective of the Irish order.

In March, Washington and Brussels reached a preliminary political agreement, but those talks have stalled amid negotiations over the legal fine print, which have bogged them down. It’s unlikely that the two sides will be able to finalize a deal before the end of the year.

A spokesperson for Irish Data Protection Commission confirmed to Politico that they had sent their draft decision to other privacy regulators in Europe. They now have a month to offer input on the blocking order.

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