Facebook is in big trouble in Ireland, the country where it has its European headquarters. Following an investigation by Irish authorities, the company has been ordered to stop sending information about European users to the US. Instead, the Meta administrator would have to set up dedicated servers in the EU, communicating data overseas only with the passage of a filtering mechanism to ensure that data collected about users is neither excessive nor misused.
Of course, this demand has major implications for Meta’s business model and platforms, with the company threatening to even leave Europe if authorities here force the company to stop sharing data with its US servers.
Irish authorities demand Facebook stop sending European data to US
Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) has asked the company to stop transferring user data from Europe to US servers. The reason is that the US government could access this data at any time, for any reason, which would violate the rights of European citizens. Of course, Facebook is protesting and even threatening to leave the entire continent of Europe if a final decision is made on this.
“It is unclear, under the conditions imposed, how we will be able to continue to offer Facebook and Instagram services in the European Union,” said Yvonne Cunnane head of Facebook Ireland’s data protection division.
Meta accuses Irish authorities of applying special treatment to Facebook because it does not force other US companies to abide by the same rules.
“This raises suspicions that Facebook is not being treated equally. If only Facebook is under investigation and subject to the suspension of data transfers to the US, this creates a distortion of competition.”
Facebook administrators say the withdrawal from Europe is not a threat, but an inevitable consequence
However, company representatives say “withdrawal from Europe” can be avoided if a consensus can be reached with EU authorities
“Facebook is not threatening to withdraw from Europe. Facebook and many other businesses, organisations and services rely on transfers between the EU and the US to operate.”
Although, Meta’s statements are much more prosaic, the truth is that the decision would not necessarily affect how Facebook operates, but it would inconvenience certain components of the FB and Instagram networks when it comes to ads. By having European or other users’ data also available on US servers, clients can sell US ads to users around the world, instantly. Something that has also proven to be dangerous in the wake of ads from politically motivated state actors influencing Democratic elections over the past few years.