As stated in its annual report to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the country’s financial authority, Meta warned last Thursday that it might shut down in Europe if no framework is adopted to resolve the current clash between EU privacy and US surveillance law.
The impasse started when European data regulations decided they should limit, and in some cases, prevent Meta, Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, from transferring, storing and processing Europeans’ data on US-based servers.
As a result, Meta was due to shutdown in Europe this summer, but was delayed due to objections made by regional DPAs to a draft decision issued by its lead data protection authority.
Although the company followed European user data rules and relied on Standard Contractual Clauses and appropriate data safeguards to operate a global service, Meta’s ability to freely process user data between transatlantic countries remains crucial for core services such as business and advert targeting.
In a statement, Meta explains: “If we are unable to transfer data between and among countries and regions in which we operate, or if we are restricted from sharing data among our products and services, it could affect our ability to provide our services, the manner in which we provide our services or our ability to target ads.”
Although Meta could previously use a data transfer framework called Privacy Shield as the legal basis to carry out transatlantic data transfers, in July 2020, the European Court of Justice annulled the treaty due to violations of data protection following an argument that the standard does not adequately protect European citizens’ privacy.
As the US and EU jointly work on an updated version of the treaty, Meta and more than 70 other companies will be closely monitoring the progress and what it entails on their ability to offer their services between the two blocs.
To this end, the social media giant expressed its hope that new agreements can be reached this year, or “we will likely be unable to offer a number of our most significant products and services, including Facebook and Instagram, in Europe”.
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