Meta threat to ditch €6bn Euro market ‘is laughable’

facebookMeta’s claim that it will pull most of services – including Facebook and Instagram – out of Europe due legal wrangles over transatlantic data transfers has been branded “laughable”, with some politicians insisting life without Facebook “is fantastic” anyway.

At the heart of the issue is the July 2020 European Court of Justice ruling that the Privacy Shield agreement to transfer personal data between the EU and the US was invalid.

The move, which affected nearly 5,400 businesses including Google, Facebook, Amazon, Experian, Acxiom, LinkedIn and Microsoft, followed a seven year battle by Austrian lawyer and privacy activist Max Schrems, who had argued that the data transfer pact did not provide consumers adequate protection from surveillance by US authorities.

Many businesses have instead opted to use standard contractual clauses (SCC) but these are also under heavy scrutiny, with many data protections experts arguing they breach GDPR too.

The ruling makes it illegal for all tech giant to process European user data in US data centres to be used for ad targeting. It has also been used in successful GDPR challenges to the use of Google Analytics.

In a statement Meta said: “If we are unable to transfer data between and among countries and regions in which we operate, or if we are restricted from sharing data among our products and services, it could affect our ability to provide our services, the manner in which we provide our services or our ability to target ads.

“If a new transatlantic data transfer framework is not adopted and we are unable to continue to rely on SCCs or rely upon other alternative means of data transfers from Europe to the United States, we will likely be unable to offer a number of our most significant products and services, including Facebook and Instagram, in Europe, which would materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.”

When questioned on the threat, a Meta spokesperson said: “We have absolutely no desire and no plans to withdraw from Europe, but the simple reality is that Meta, and many other businesses, organisations and services, rely on data transfers between the EU and the US in order to operate global services.

“Fundamentally, businesses need clear, global rules to protect transatlantic data flows over the long term […] we are closely monitoring the potential impact on our European operations as these developments progress.”

Many politicians and industry experts claim the threat is laughable; and with the tech giant’s European ad revenues reaching $6.8bn (€6bn, £5bn) a year it is easy to see why.

Germany’s federal minister for economic affairs and climate action Robert Habeck said: “After being hacked, I’ve lived without Facebook and Twitter for four years and life has been fantastic.”

Meanwhile, French finance minister Bruno Le Maire added: “I can confirm that life is very good without Facebook and that we would live very well without Facebook. Digital giants must understand that the European continent will resist and affirm its sovereignty.”

One data specialist told Decision Marketing: “This is laughable. Is Meta really going to cut off its nose to spite its face. Europe is a massive market for the company, and there is no way it would pull out. This is quite simply a warning to the US Government to sort the situation, or see a US company suffer.

“Ironically, it is the US Government security services’ surveillance that got them into this in the first place.”

Related stories
Adtech framework is sunk; now firms must delete data
Google Analytics’ rulings put online brands on red alert
New IAB adtech framework ‘as flawed as the last one’
Big issues still to tackle in 2022: Online or off limits?
Top brands face official probe for illegal consent cookies
Facebook nemesis targets sites over consent cookies
Apple cut to the core by new unlawful tracking claims
Decision Marketing at 10: How GDPR changed the world
US tech giants rocked as Privacy Shield gets the chop
Transatlantic data transfers torpedoed once again

Print Friendly