Meta faces record privacy fine for data transfers to the US

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Meta is expected to face a record privacy fine on Monday when Ireland’s data protection watchdog confirms the social media platform mishandled people’s data when shipping it to the United States, according to two people with direct knowledge of the upcoming decision.

POLITICO was not able to confirm the size of the record-setting penalty, which will likely be more than the €746 million fine that Amazon was forced to pay in 2021 for similarly flouting the European Union’s privacy standards, the people added, who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak about internal deliberations.

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission will publish its ruling on Monday; it is also expected to include demands that Meta’s Facebook stop using complex legal instruments to move EU data to the U.S., called standard contract clauses, in the fall. 

The upcoming decision dates back to revelations in 2013 from Edward Snowden, the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor, who disclosed that American authorities had repeatedly accessed people’s information via tech companies like Facebook and Google.

Max Schrems, an Austrian privacy campaigner, filed a legal challenge against Facebook for failing to protect his privacy rights, setting off a decade-long battle over the legality of moving EU data to the U.S.

Europe’s top court has repeatedly stated Washington does not have sufficient checks in place to protect Europeans’ personal information, and the U.S. recently updated its internal legal protections to give the EU greater assurances that American intelligence agencies will follow new rules governing such data access.

Meta declined to comment. The Irish Data Protection Commission did not respond in time for publication.