Meta fined $1.3 billion by EU over transfer of private data to the US

Meta said in a statement: “We will appeal the ruling, including the unjustified and unnecessary fine..."
Sejal Sharma
Meta European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland
Meta European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland

Derick Hudson/iStock 

Meta has been asked to pay up a record-breaking $1.3 billion in fines for transferring personal data of European Facebook users to the United States.

The company is accused of continuing to transfer private data of users to the States even after a July 16, 2020, EU court order mandated Meta to stop the transfer.

The fine has been imposed by Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner (DPC), Helen Dixon, and is the heaviest EU privacy fine slapped on a company since Amazon was asked to pay 746 million euros in 2021, as per a report by Reuters.

Meta said in a statement yesterday: “We will appeal the ruling, including the unjustified and unnecessary fine, and seek a stay of the orders through the courts.”

“At a time where the internet is fracturing under pressure from authoritarian regimes, like-minded democracies should work together to promote and defend the idea of the open internet,” the statement said further. Facebook won’t be suspended yet in Europe, as the decision includes implementation periods that run until later this year.

The Irish Data Protection Commission, the lead EU privacy regulator, has ordered Meta to bring its data transfers into compliance with the GDPR within six months.

The order noted that ‘The Data Transfers are made in circumstances which fail to guarantee a level of protection to data subjects that is essentially equivalent to that provided by EU law,’

The tech behemoth has been found in violation of Article 46(1) of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), which stipulates: ‘In the absence of a decision under Article 45(3), a controller or processor may transfer personal data to a third country or an international organization only if the controller or processor has provided appropriate safeguards, and on condition that enforceable data subject rights and effective legal remedies for data subjects are available.’

In a statement released Monday by the European Data Protection Board, an arm of the EU that oversees the implementation of GDPR, its chairperson Andrea Jelinek said, “The EDPB found that Meta IE’s infringement is very serious since it concerns transfers that are systematic, repetitive and continuous. Facebook has millions of users in Europe, so the volume of personal data transferred is massive. The unprecedented fine is a strong signal to organisations that serious infringements have far-reaching consequences.”

This isn't the first time Meta has faced fines for data privacy issues. Five months ago, a U.S. court asked it to pay $725 million to Facebook users for allowing political firm Cambridge Analytica to use their private data.

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