8 July 2022

It has been reported that this week the Irish privacy regulator has informed other European counterparts that it intends to block the transfer of data between Europe and the United States of America through social media platforms controlled by the firm Meta. Meta owns social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram as well as the instant messaging platforms, Messenger and WhatsApp among others.

This potential transfer of data blocking meant to further enforce the 2020 ruling made by the European Court of Justice which annulled the Privacy Shield – an agreement which allowed data flows between the USA and Europe. The decision was made in light of concerns regarding American surveillance activities.

Since then, vast packets of data have been transferred using a legal tool commonly referred to as standard contractual clauses (SCC’s). This latest decision by the Irish Privacy regulator, cracks down on these devices as well, further restricting the amount of data transferred.

Many of Meta’s services in Europe, including Facebook and Instagram, will be shut down as a result of this move, the company has repeatedly warned.

In March 2022, it filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission stating that if it was not allowed the use of SCC’s or other methods of transfer of Data from Europe to the USA, it would have to deny the use of its social platforms to European users.  Meta also urged for the formation of a new transatlantic data transfer network to ensure the smooth running of providing its services to European clients.

At the moment of writing, there are current talks between Europe and the USA about this new data transfer network pact, but things seem to be stalled over agreement on the wording of this document. While an agreement will surely and eventually be reached to safeguard the business interests on both sides of the Atlantic, it seems rather unlikely that the said agreement will be finalised before the end of this year.

The situation is somewhat worrisome for businesses even on a local level. More businesses rely on social media platforms operated by Meta to promote their business activities and products. Most of them plan and budget for marketing campaigns on such platforms. While the consumer’s data is to be protected under data privacy legislation, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the new data transfer network pact must strike the balance between data protection and good business flow and practice.

This news was broken by Politico on 7 July 2022