The GDPR has let us know that Europe takes data protection and privacy seriously. Websites around the world have been readjusted for these regulations. Facebook, however, seems to think it should be free to handle customer data as it wishes, but this disagrees with the Irish Data Protection Commission. This left Facebook saying that it could be forced to end its operations in Europe if it is not allowed to transfer data around the world as it wishes.
Facebook court filing in Dublin
To be clear, while this relates to data protection, it does not qualify as a GDPR violation. A preliminary order was delivered by the Irish DPC in August which would stop the transfer of data on European customers to servers in the United States. This is due to concerns about the monitoring of data by the US government.
Facebook turned around and filed a lawsuit challenging the ban. In an affidavit under oath filed this week, he accused the Irish Data Protection Commissioner of bias and unfairness, noting that similar tech companies were not being asked to do the same. He added that the move would force him to abandon operations in Europe and leave 410 million Facebook and Instagram users without the services.
“It is not clear [Facebook] how, under these circumstances, it could continue to provide the Facebook and Instagram services in the EU ”, wrote Yvonne Cunnane, Facebook Ireland Data Protection Officer and Associate General Counsel, in affidavit under oath.
Cunnane further complains that Facebook only had three weeks to respond to the Irish DPC’s decision. She describes this schedule as “clearly insufficient” and says the social network was not even contacted before the decision.
There are additional concerns over this ruling unilaterally handed down by Irish Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon. “The fact that one person is responsible for the whole process is relevant for [Facebook’s] concerns about the inadequacy of the investigative process initiated and the independence of the final decision-making process, ”Cunnane wrote.
There is also a complaint that Facebook is the only major tech company called, but Cunnane complains that others are using similar methods to transfer data from the EU to the US.
“This gives rise to apprehension that [Facebook] is not treated the same, ”says Cunnane. “Yes [Facebook] only the subject of an investigation and suspension of data transfers to the United States would risk creating a serious distortion of competition. “
A Facebook spokesperson cooled the language slightly, saying “Facebook is not threatening to withdraw from Europe”. Cunnane’s court record simply explains that “Facebook, and many other businesses, organizations and services, rely on data transfers between the EU and the United States to operate their services.
The fallout from Facebook’s legal filing
A judge allowed this challenge from Facebook and suspended the ban on data transfers, but the DPC can challenge the ruling if it wishes.
Cunnane also mentioned that 410 million in Europe use Facebook and Instagram for their free speech. In addition, the company generated 208 billion euros in revenue for companies that use the social media site for business purposes.
Facebook’s business model transfers data across the globe, allowing it to target users with sharp and specific ads. If it is not allowed to transfer data to the United States, it will affect the company’s revenue.
University College London technology policy researcher Michael Veale told VICE News: “The idea that Facebook is pulling out of the European market is absurd and nobody really believes.”
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