Facebook faces the risk of not being able to migrate data about its European users to the United States. Ireland raised fears that such moves do not sufficiently secure the database from monitoring by the American government.
On Wednesday, the social network said the Irish Data Protection Commission started an investigation on transferring data from European users to the United States. Ireland regulates Facebook’s privacy activities in Europe. The regulators will fine the social media website for violating European data security legislation by up to 4 percent of its global sales.
Because Facebook transfers data from data centers worldwide, the Silicon Valley corporation will now have to change its operations and keep data about Europeans stored within the European Union, an incredibly difficult task.
Here’s what happened
The case, previously reported by The Wall Street Journal, is the first significant result of a high court ruling of the European Union in July. It invalidated a crucial trans-Atlantic deal called Privacy Shield. The agreement between the United States and the European Union had allowed companies to transfer data between the two countries. However, the court struck it down. They claimed the Europeans did not have adequate protection from American intelligence agencies.
The ruling concerns thousands of firms. However, Facebook’s data-sharing activities have been subject to particular scrutiny by European authorities. EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said in European Parliament last week there would be no easy remedy for the issue.
Any privacy experts have said that to resolve the court’s questions, US needs to amend its surveillance regulations. For its side, US said its oversight activities are proportionate. US has also protested in court that the Ireland should not have authority over US national security policies.
Facebook argued that the court permitted some forms of legal contracts to continue data transmission. Regulators in Ireland objected and said certain agreements are unconstitutional.
How will it affect things?
Blocking data transfers from major tech firms, including Facebook, to the US could disrupt trillions of dollars in exchange from cross-border technology operations, including cloud computing, human resources, and marketing.
These factors include obtaining or preserving knowledge from US soil about Europeans, tech advocates claim. Similar reasoning may also prohibit transfers to other countries where EU courts consider surveillance laws intrusive, advocates said.
Facebook has to answer Ireland’s lawsuit by later this month so that the Irish regulator can make a final statement by the end of the year. Facebook could go to court and appeal the decision.
“A lack of safe, secure and legal international data transfers would damage the economy and hamper the growth of data-driven businesses in the EU, just as we seek a recovery from Covid-19,” Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, said of the moves. “The impact would be felt by businesses large and small, across multiple sectors.”
Ireland’s Data Protection Commission had declined to comment.
Other big tech firms, such as Google, had to observe Facebook’s experience closely. These companies often rely on data sharing between the US and Europe.
American and European leaders expressed a commitment to negotiate a new data-sharing deal. But legal analysts also said compliance with the European court decision would significantly improve American surveillance legislation and offer more excellent privacy protection for Europeans.