EU Takes Action: Meta Fined $1.3 Billion for Data Privacy Violations

The European Union has taken action against Meta, fining them $1.3 billion for multiple data privacy violations. Find out more about the decision and its implications here.
  1. Overview of the EU’s Record-Breaking Fine on Meta
  2. The Controversy Behind Meta’s Data Privacy Violations 
  3. How Will This Affect EU Data Protection Regulations 
  4. What Does This Mean for Users of Meta Services in Europe 
  5. Implications of the Massive Fine for Other Companies in the Future 
  6. Steps to Ensure Compliance with EU Data Protection Rules Going Forward

Overview of the EU’s Record-Breaking Fine on Meta

Meta was fined a record-breaking $1.3 billion for violating privacy regulations by the European Union. The EU has also directed Meta to stop transferring users’ personal data across the Atlantic by October. This action comes after a ten-year-old case which originated from U.S. cybersnooping concerns. The fine is the largest since the implementation of the EU’s strict privacy laws five years ago, exceeding Amazon’s 746 million euro fine in 2021 for data protection violations.

The glass building of Meta headquarters
Meta has declared that it will appeal the decision regarding the suspension of its services for European users

The company plans to request that the courts temporarily put the decision on hold. However, for the time being, there is no disruption to Facebook users in Europe. The decision will impact user data such as names, email and IP addresses, messages, viewing history, geolocation data, and other pieces of information that Meta and other tech companies use for directed online marketing. Google is also expected to be impacted.

The Controversy Behind Meta’s Data Privacy Violations 

Nick Clegg and Jennifer Newstead, top people at Meta, said that the decision made is not fair and has mistakes in it. They said it is dangerous for other companies that move data from Europe to the US. If you are eligible, you can claim money from Meta’s $725 million settlement by following these steps.

Austrian privacy rights activist Max Schrems
In 2013, Max Schrems from Austria was concerned about privacy rights

He was mad at Facebook when Edward Snowden said that the government was looking at people’s information. He wrote a complaint to Facebook about it. Facebook was giving Europeans’ personal information to these agencies. Recently the legal battle has taken a different turn with regard to gambling here and its legalization in some states of America, the provincial government is trying to legalize this type of income and advertising.

How Will This Affect EU Data Protection Regulations 

The situation has made people think about how the U.S. and Europe don’t have the same rules about privacy. In Europe, privacy policies are stricter, but in the U.S., there is no law that tells people what to do with private information. Europe is showing other countries how to stop big tech companies from having too much power. They are making laws to control the companies.

Woman's hands holding a smartphone while watching laptop screen
They need to watch what people post more carefully and protect their users’ personal information

In 2020, the EU’s top court invalidated the Privacy Shield agreement for EU-U.S. data transfers, citing insufficient protection of residents from U.S. government surveillance. This week, the court confirmed that the use of stock legal contracts as an alternative is also invalid. Last year, Brussels and Washington agreed on a new Privacy Shield deal. This deal needs to be approved by European officials before Meta can use it. The approval is needed to make sure it meets data privacy standards.

What Does This Mean for Users of Meta Services in Europe 

The EU is looking at an agreement. People have said that the rules are not strong enough, so they want better protection. Meta got a fine from Ireland’s Data Protection Commission. This is because they are in charge of making sure Meta follows privacy rules. Meta is based in Dublin, Ireland.

Meta black wall with logo behind smartphone with Instagram and Facebook logos

The Irish watchdog gave Meta five months to stop sending European user data to the U.S. Meta has six months to make sure their data operations follow the rules. This means they cannot process personal data from people in Europe if they are in the U.S. If a privacy agreement is approved before the deadline, Meta can keep their services running without any interruption or changes for users.

Implications of the Massive Fine for Other Companies in the Future 

The FTC is proposing to ban Facebook’s parent company, Meta, from profiting from the data of young users. Meanwhile, Meta plans to introduce a paid verification service for Facebook and Instagram. Despite this, privacy activist Max Schrems believes Meta is unlikely to successfully challenge these decisions. Meta might still have to go to court even if it signs a new agreement about privacy.

Entrance Erasmus of the Justice Court of the European Union in Luxembourg City
The court is in Europe and it is the most important one

Schrems said that Meta plans to use the new deal in the future, but it won’t work forever. He also stated that if the US surveillance laws are not improved, Meta may have to keep EU data within the EU. Meta said they may have to stop giving people their products and services in Europe. This would mean less money for them. They can only do this if they are allowed to share information.

Steps to Ensure Compliance with EU Data Protection Rules Going Forward

Meta may need to change the way it does things if it stops sending data to Europe. Meta has 21 data centers and 17 of them are in the United States. This could cost a lot of money. The remaining centers are situated in Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, and Singapore.

Dark-blueish datancenter room with racks of servers

TikTok, a Chinese-owned short video sharing app, is attempting to alleviate concerns about potential cybersecurity risks by launching a $1.5 billion project to store the data of its U.S. users on Oracle servers. This move comes as other social media companies are also facing pressure regarding their data practices.