Would Meta really consider shutting down Facebook and Instagram in Europe?

Marketers, advertisers, and users of Facebook and Instagram rest assured, that Meta does not plan to close its platforms in Europe. While Meta has declared the possibility of shutting down its services in Europe if it finds itself unable to mine European user data from the United States, the company has since responded to the rumour and has announced that it has no plans to shut down Facebook and Instagram to European users. Overview of the situation.


Why did the rumour originate?
Some time ago, the Austrian data protection authority declared that the use of Google Analytics deviates from the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The reason concerned the transfer of data between Europe and the United States which is not secure enough. In addition, the Safe Harbor and Privacy Shield devices that allowed unlimited data transfer between Europe and the United States were both invalidated in 2015 and 2020 respectively for these same reasons.

Following this, Meta published in its annual report to the authority of the financial markets, the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) “ that it will probably be impossible for [them] to supply in Europe some of [their] products and services the most important ones, including Facebook and Instagram ”. Very quickly, the news spread so well that many saw it as a threat from the company to permanently close Facebook and Instagram in Europe for lack of an agreement.

Meta and personal data protection in Europe
Following the invalidations of the Safe Harbor and Privacy Shield systems, companies had to put in place “standard contractual clauses” (SCC). Their purpose is to conclude transfer contracts between an exporter and an importer of data. However, these clauses do not solve the problem concerning US surveillance laws. In addition, the Irish CNIL, which is currently evaluating the clauses put in place by Meta, has already indicated that they are not in accordance with the GDPR. A final decision should be made during the first half of 2022, but it is very likely to invalidate the data transfers.

It is because of this uncertainty about the possibility of continuing to transfer data between Europe and the United States that Meta raised the possibility in its report of having to withdraw from the European market if no agreement could be reached.

An unlikely closure
However, it is highly unlikely that Meta will actually close its services in Europe, as the latter is a strategic market for Meta. In addition, many companies and businesses use Meta’s platforms and a shutdown of its services would severely impact them. Meta also tempered by explaining:

“ We have absolutely no will or plan to withdraw from Europe, but the simple reality is that Meta, like many other companies, organizations, and services, depends on data transfer between the EU and the US to operate globally .”

Meta, therefore, calls for the establishment of a clear regulatory framework and the resumption of negotiations in order to find an alternative to the Privacy Shield.

written by: IT Advice 

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