Mark Zuckerberg threatens to pull Facebook and Instagram out of the EU
News - Sep 25, 2020
Last month, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission decided to order Facebook to stop sending private data of its users from the EU to the USA, and keep it on servers in the EU instead, out of concerns that the data is monitored by the US government.
If this decision is put in practice, consequences for users and numerous companies in Europe may be immense, as explained in a lawsuit filed by Facebook to the High Court Ireland.
Namely, according to the lawsuit filed by Facebook Data Protection Head in Ireland Yvonne Cunnane, in case of the ban of data transfer, conditions for continuing providing services such as Facebook and Instagram in the European Union are not clear. In short, it would mean pulling out those two SoMe platforms with more than 400 million users from the EU. She particularly emphasised that, thanks to those platforms, European companies recorded revenue of cca EUR208 bn.
In addition to the warning about potential pulling out from the EU, Facebook also criticised Ireland’s Personal Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon in its lawsuit, stating that it is beyond comprehension that such a big decision was reached by one person. Furthermore, they underline that they have a three-week deadline to reply to the decision, adding that many other US tech companies use the same methods of transferring data to servers in the USA, but Dixon singled out Facebook and ruled about Zuckerberg’s company only.
It leaves an impression that Facebook is not treated equally, wrote Cunnane in the lawsuit, explaining that something like that will not have a positive impact on the free market and competitiveness, because it seems that the state has one rule for Facebook and other rules for other companies doing the same thing.
In a media comment, Facebook explained that the announcement of the potential withdrawal from the EU is not a threat aimed at putting pressure on the regulatory bodies to change their decision, underlining that the company relies on data transfer between the EU and the USA in functioning of its servers. If there is no data transfer, they cannot offer their services to the users in the European Union.
Transfer of data about users is important for Facebook in order to be able to better place targeted ads to them which, naturally, they earn from, and if this data transfer is disturbed, it will affect the company’s revenue, explained Facebook their harsh reaction to the decision on banning data transfer to the US servers. However, according to a privacy expert from the University of London, Facebook’s ultimatum is only ‘an empty threat’, its announcement of withdrawal from the EU is absurd and no one will believe it.