- Facebook and Instagram will withdraw from Europe if they are subject to a complete suspension of data transfer to the US.
- The European court had observed that there are not enough safeguards against snooping by US intelligence agencies.
- Last month, Facebook was handed over a preliminary order by EU to stop tranferring users' data to the US.
Facebook, which has 410 million users in Europe, has said it will have to withdraw its services if the EU completely suspends data transfers to the US. Facebook, in a court filing in Dublin, noted that the decision by Ireland's Data Protection Commission (DPC) would force the company to withdraw services leaving people who use Facebook and Instagram in the lurch.
An affidavit filed by Facebook's Head of Data Protection, Ireland, Yvonne Cunnane, read: "In the event that the Applicant [Facebook] were subject to a complete suspension of the transfer of users' data to the US, as appears to what the DPC proposes, it is not clear to the applicant how, in those circumstances, it could continue to provide the Facebook and Instagram services in the EU." The court filing was first obtained by The Vice.
A Facebook spokesman in a statement said that this does not constitute a threat to withdraw from the EU.
"Facebook is not threatening to withdraw from Europe. Legal documents filed with the Irish High Court set out the simple reality that Facebook, and many other businesses, organisations and services rely on data transfers between the EU and the US to operate their services," a facebook spokesman said. "A lack of safe, secure, and legal international data transfers would damage the economy and hamper the growth of data-driven businesses in the EU, just as we seek a recovery from COVID 19.
Facebook has called out to the DPC saying that there is a lack of fairness and apparent bias in singling out Facebook.
Cunnane points out that Facebook was given only three weeks to respond to the decision, referring to a preliminary order handed to by a European data protection commissioner asking Facebook to stop sending user data to the US. Cunnane called the 3-week period to respond a preliminary order as "manifestly inadequate," adding that Facebook wasn't contacted about the inquiry prior to judgment being handed down.
In July 2020, the European Court of Justice dismantled the 2016 Privacy Shield, saying that EU digital privacy laws were at risk of being violated under the agreement, which allows for data to be transferred, stored, and processed in the United States.
The court had observed that there are not enough safeguards against snooping by US intelligence agencies. A report by The Guardian noted that the ruling of the European Union (CJEU) does not immediately end such transfers, but requires data protection authorities (DPAs) in individual member states to vet the sending of any new data to make sure people's personal information remains protected according to the EU's data protection laws (GDPR).