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February 08, 2022

Meta is considering closing Facebook and Instagram in Europe

Mark Zuckerberg and team consider shutting down Facebook and Instagram in Europe if Meta can’t process Europeans’ data on US servers.

If Meta is not given the ability to transfer, store and process data from its European users on US-based servers, Facebook and Instagram could be shut down across Europe, the owner of the social media giants reportedly warned in his annual report.

The main problem for Meta is transatlantic data transfer, regulated through the so-called Privacy Shield and other model agreements that Meta uses or uses to store data of European users on US servers. Current agreements to enable data transfers are currently under intense scrutiny in the EU.

In its annual report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Meta warns that unless a new framework is adopted and the company is no longer allowed to use the current model agreements “or alternatives”, the company “probably” will no longer be able to use many of its Offer “key products and services”, including Facebook and Instagram, in the EU, according to several media reports, including in iTWire, The Guardian newspaper and Side Line Magazine.

Sharing data between countries and regions is critical to the delivery of its services and targeted advertising, emphasizes Meta.

Therefore, it previously used the transatlantic data transfer framework, called the Privacy Shield, as the legal basis to carry out those data transfers.

However, this treaty was annulled by the European Court of Justice in July 2020, due to data protection violations. Since then, the EU and the US have emphasized that they are working on a new or updated version of the treaty.

In addition to the Privacy Shield, Meta also uses so-called model agreements, or Standard Contractual Clauses, as the primary legal basis for processing data from European users on American servers.

These model agreements are also under scrutiny in Brussels and other parts of the EU.

Response from Facebook

When contacted by City AM yesterday, John Nolan, Meta’s London-based leader in technical media and advertising communications, did not deny or downplay the reports.

Instead, he shared a statement from Nick Clegg, Meta’s VP of Global Affairs and Communications.

Clegg warned that “a lack of safe, secure and legal international data transfers would hurt the economy and hinder the growth of data-driven businesses in the EU, just as we pursue a recovery from Covid-19.”

“The impact would be felt by companies large and small, across multiple industries,” he continued.

“Businesses need clear, global rules, backed by the strong rule of law, to protect transatlantic data flows over the long term.”

Nick Clegg, VP of Global Affairs and Communications.

“In the worst case scenario, this could mean that a small tech start-up in Germany would no longer be able to use a US cloud provider. A Spanish product development company could no longer be able to operate across multiple time zones.”

“A French retailer may find that they can no longer maintain a call center in Morocco,” Clegg emphasized.

He added: “As policymakers work towards a sustainable long-term solution, we urge regulators to take a proportionate and pragmatic approach to minimize disruption to the many thousands of companies, such as Facebook, who act in good faith on these mechanisms. trusted to transfer data in a safe and secure manner.”

“We are closely monitoring the potential impact on our European operations as these developments progress.”

A spokesperson for Meta

Following Clegg’s statement, Facebook reached out for a second time, as a Meta spokesperson said City AM told: “We have absolutely no desire and no plans to withdraw from Europe, but the simple reality is that Meta, and many other companies, organizations and services, rely on data transfers between the EU and the US to provide global services. to exploit.”

“Like other companies, we have followed European rules and rely on standard contractual clauses and appropriate data safeguards to operate a global service.”

“Basically, companies 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. .”

Irish case

In addition to developments in Europe, the Irish Data Protection Commission told meta in August 2020 that it had provisionally concluded that the use of the model agreements was not in compliance with the GDPR.

The processing of European data on American servers therefore had to be suspended by IDPC. However, this was only a preliminary conclusion, so that in fact no change came about.

The company went to court to overturn the ban, but judges ruled IDPC’s investigation could continue.

The watchdog’s final verdict is expected to be published in the first half of this year. Should IDPC indeed determine that the model agreements are illegal, Meta may decide that it is no longer feasible to offer some of its services throughout the EU.

On the Irish case, Clegg said: “The Irish Data Protection Commission has launched an investigation into Facebook-controlled data transfers between the EU and the US and has suggested that in practice SCCs cannot be used for data transfers between the EU and the US.”

“While this approach is subject to further processes, if followed, it could have a far-reaching effect on businesses that rely on SCCs and on the online services that many people and businesses rely on,” he concluded.

source: cityam

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