EU Fines Meta $1.3B Over Data Privacy

    EU Fines Meta $1.3B Over Data Privacy
    Last updated May 22, 2023
    Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


    • On Monday, the European Union fined Meta's Facebook a record €1.2B ($1.3B) for "systematic, repetitive, and continuous" transfers of users' data from Europe to the United States.[1]
    • The Irish Data Protection Commission, which acts on behalf of the EU, alleges Meta infringed on the EU's General Data Protection Regulation by failing to "address the risks to the fundamental rights and freedoms of data subjects" identified in the EU's Court of Justice.[2]
    • The Commission ordered Meta to put in place measures to halt all future transfers of personal data from the EU to the US in the next five months and to stop "the unlawful processing, including storage, in the US of personal data of EU/EEA [European Economic Area] users transferred" in violation of the Regulation within six months.[3]
    • Meta, which has its European headquarters in Dublin, said it would appeal the "flawed" and "unjustified" decision, noting the issue originated from a "conflict of law" between US rules on access to data and the EU users' privacy rights.[4]
    • Meta's $1.3B fine is a new record for tech companies in Europe, following the previous record of €746M ($805.7M) levied against Amazon in 2021.[4]
    • This comes after the Irish watchdog organization fined Meta-owned WhatsApp €5.5M ($5.95M) for breaching the bloc's privacy laws and directed it to bring its processing operations into compliance within six months.[5]


    Pro-establishment narrative

    This fine is unfair as it singles out Facebook for using the exact legal mechanism thousands of US companies follow to provide services in Europe. Moreover, it sets a dangerous precedent for the countless tech firms transferring data between the EU and the US.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    As US intelligence agencies — through their close relationship with Big Tech — have used data transfers to collect European citizens' information, this is a big win for privacy. Meta should also count its blessings, as it's been breaking European law for ten years and could have been fined the maximum of $4B.

    Narrative C

    This is another example of policing the internet cloaked as providing "data safety" for European users. Though it strikes a blow against surveillance capitalism — which has become Silicon Valley's default model for capital accumulation — the fine is inconsequential for Europeans' rights as Meta will likely hold on to data it has moved unlawfully.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that the US will break up Meta Platforms no earlier than January 2030, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

    Establishment split



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