October 3, 2022
Facebook, Instagram EU-US data flow may be halted by Irish regulators in May

Ireland’s data privacy regulator said in an interview that EU-US data transfers by Meta-owned Facebook and Instagram could be halted as early as May, but the move would not immediately affect other big tech companies.

Europe’s highest court ruled in 2020 that the EU-US data transfer agreement was invalid due to concerns that US government surveillance may not respect the privacy rights of EU citizens.

This prompted Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC), META’s lead regulator in Europe, to issue a provisional order on what Facebook and Instagram use to transfer data from EU users to the United States. cannot be used in practice.”

The order, which does not apply to WhatsApp because it has a separate data controller within the Meta group, was halted after a legal challenge, but resumed last May when the Irish High Court dismissed Meta’s claims. Gave.

Helen Dixon told Reuters: “An updated decision may be shared with fellow EU regulators in April and if none of them object, that’s the first thing we can do to make a final decision.” The objection may also add a few months to the deadline.

“If there was a scenario where the data flow was deemed illegal and needed to be stopped, obviously the impact would be huge,” she said.

But there is no way the investigation can automatically stop the same data flow on Meta’s larger rivals, many of whom also have their European headquarters in Ireland.

“The decisions that the DPC ultimately makes with respect to Facebook will be specific to Facebook and will be addressed to Facebook only,” Dixon said.

“The consequence of the CJEU (European Union’s Court of Justice) decision is that we cannot conduct a comprehensive and more comprehensive search. We have to go company by company,” she said.

There are “hundreds of thousands of units” that need to be looked at as potential, Dixon said, starting with other large Internet platforms.

Meta has warned that Europe is likely to be unable to offer important services like Facebook and Instagram without a new transatlantic data transfer framework.

There is a parallel political process between the US Department of Commerce and the European Union Commission on such measures, but the Irish regulator has not been informed of progress.

Dixon’s office has so far completed just two investigations of multinationals under new EU privacy rules introduced in 2018, including a fine of 225 million euros (about Rs 1,900 crore) last year.

The DPC is likely to complete nine or 10 of the 30 open investigations in 2022, Dixon said, an acceleration he attributed to nearly doubling of its workforce in three years and would serve as an answer to critics who say that his office is low. To deal with huge work flow.

Dixon said staffing will increase from 195 currently to 260 by the end of 2022 and just 27 in 2014, but will continue to increase for “the coming years”.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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