Tuesday, March 28

Facebook now says it’s “not threatening to leave Europe at all”

Meta’s challenge to take Facebook and Instagram out of the EU if it is not allowed to send personal data from Europeans to the US has lasted a few hours. After the strong reaction of the continent (“United, we will not be intimidated by something like this”, stated the German Economy Minister; “the digital giants must understand that Europe will resist and assert its sovereignty”, said its French counterpart), the corporation has tone down and now says that “Meta is not threatening to leave Europe at all”.

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The company has qualified what it expressed in a document to the US stock market regulator, the SEC, in which it stated that “it is likely” that it will take Facebook and Instagram from Europe due to legal insecurity in sending personal information to the US. “We absolutely do not want to withdraw from Europe, of course not. But the simple reality is that Meta, like many other companies, organizations and services, relies on data transfers between the EU and the US in order to operate our global services.” , said Markus Reinisch, Meta’s Vice President of Public Policy for Europe, in a statement published on Tuesday night.

The multinational’s comments to the SEC have been received harshly by users, by high-ranking politicians in the EU and also by the markets, since the European continent represents a very important part of its income. Its shares have dropped almost another 10% between Monday and Tuesday, which adds to the 23% that fell last week after the presentation of its results. In total, Meta has left a third of its value in a week, approximately 250,000 million dollars.

In your statement, Reinisch alleges that “it is not true” that his company’s comments to the SEC were “a threat” to leave the continent. However, he insists that Facebook and Instagram need to take the personal data of Europeans to the US to maintain their business. “Companies need clear, global rules to protect long-term transatlantic data flows and, like other companies in a wide range of industries, we are closely monitoring the potential impact for the millions of people and businesses that use our services.” as these events unfold.

On account of sending personal data to the USA

The problems of these information shipments date back to 2020. That year the Court of Justice of the EU knocked down the Privacy Shield (Privacy Shield), a bilateral protocol between the US and the EU that regulated the transfer of personal data between both blocks, for not properly protecting the rights of European citizens. The agreement has not been replaced by another, despite which Meta continues to send data to the US, considering that it does not violate any law by doing so, according to leaked internal documents.

“If we are unable to transfer data between the countries and regions in which we operate or if we are restricted from sharing data between our products and services, this could affect our ability to deliver our services, the way we deliver them or our ability to target ads, which could adversely affect our financial results,” Meta explained to the SEC.

That of 2020 has not been the only position against these transfers of data from European citizens to the US by the CJEU. Five years earlier there was another in which it ruled that the data protection laws of the EU and the US were not equivalent, since US regulations allow their security agencies to enter the databases of their companies without a court order. . Sending personal information without a specific agreement violates the rights of Europeans, the Court ruled.

The consequence of that first failure was the Privacy Shield, which was later annulled for the same reason. In both cases, the complainant was the privacy activist Max Schrems from Austria and the defendant was Facebook. However, the rulings left all data transfers up in the air, not just those of the company founded by Mark Zuckerberg.

“We are not alone. At least 70 other companies from a wide range of sectors, including ten European companies, have also raised the risks around data transfers in their earnings statements,” Reinisch stresses in his statement.