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Facebook Threatens to Leave Europe

March 01, 2022

Meta has cautioned that Facebook is to leave Europe, also pulling the plug on Whatsapp and Instagram operations in the EU, if the company is not allowed to store the personal data of EU citizens in the US, reports iTWire.
The statement, buried deep in Meta’s annual record for the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), stressed concerns that strict GDPR regulations protecting personal data would inhibit Meta’s business operations and revenue.

Meta wrote in the report, "​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”.

European Lawmakers Unimpressed by Meta Warning

Meta’s threat was quickly brushed aside by EU politicians. “After being hacked, I’ve lived without Facebook and Twitter for four years and life has been fantastic,” Germany’s Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck told reporters at a press conference on Monday. 

This sentiment was shared by France’s Minister of Finance, Bruno Le Maire, who said at the same event, “I can confirm that life is very good without Facebook and that we would live very well without Facebook”.

EU-US Data Privacy War Continues

Meta’s statement is another broadside in the war over privacy rights between Europe and the US. It is emblematic of the frustration felt by US tech companies that are working without any bilateral treaty governing data transfers between the EU and the US. 
Personal data is vital to online advertisements that generate most of Meta’s revenue, and frameworks overseeing data transfer from Europe are now in disarray.
Underlying this is the EU’s Schrems II case in July 2020, which ruled that the Privacy Shield – the bilateral EU-US data exportation agreement – inadequately protected the data rights of EU citizens as established by GDPR.
At the heart of this is the friction between the data privacy rights of EU citizens and invasive surveillance laws in the US. And, while the EU and US initiated negotiations on a replacement privacy shield, an agreement looks unlikely for the foreseeable future. 
Read more about Meta’s statement

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