Sun Sep 27 2020
Facebook has threatened to quit the EU after an argument with Irish data regulators
Following disagreements with Ireland's Data Protection Commission (DPC), Facebook has threatened to remove its operations from the entire of the EU.
The threat came after a ruling by the DPC over data transfer mechanisms from Ireland to the USA.
In an affidavit that was submitted to the Ireland's High Court last week, Yvonne Cunnane, Facebooks head of data protection and associate general counsel in Ireland stated that the DPC’s order would leave them with no choice but to cease operating in the European Union, which would leave over 410 million people there unable to access their Facebook or Instagram accounts.
The back and forth started last month when the DPC issued a preliminary ruling that stated Facebook should stop transferring European user’s data to servers based in the USA. The DPC were concerned that under various different US surveillance regimes, the data privacy of European citizens might not be respected enough (or at all).
The ruling stated that Facebook couldn’t use the Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) mechanism to transfer user’s data between the EU and the US.
In response, Facebook challenged the DPC’s ruling in court, stating they were unsure if they could even continue to operate in the EU if it was to be enforced.
It is not clear to [Facebook] how, in those circumstances, it could continue to provide the Facebook and Instagram services in the EU. If [Facebook] alone is being investigated and subject to a suspension of data transfers to the US, this would be liable to create a serious distortion of competition.
Cunnane went on to say she didn’t feel the DPC were treating fairly and that the ruling had been made solely on the decision of Helen Dixon, the Commissioner of Irelands Data Protection Commission.
Facebook have denied that their threat to withdraw from the EU was an attempt to force the DPC’s and EU’s hand arguing that a lack of legal and secure international data transfers would hamper the growth of data-driven businesses in Europe.
Currently a judge has allowed a temporary stop to the order so EU citizens can still use Facebook for now, with the next hearing to be held in November 2020.
Sun Sep 27 2020