Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has been slapped a $1.3 billion by European Union regulators for transferring the personal data of Facebook’s EU users to servers in the United States, according to a CNN report.
The fine is the largest ever levied under Europe’s signature data privacy law, known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) , The previous record of $805.7 million was levied against Amazon in 2021.
Meta has also been ordered to cease the processing of personal data of European users in the United States within six months.
Meta’s infringement is “very serious since it concerns transfers that are systematic, repetitive and continuous,” said Andrea Jelinek, chair of the European Data Protection Board.
“Facebook has millions of users in Europe, so the volume of personal data transferred is massive. The unprecedented fine is a strong signal to organizations that serious infringements have far-reaching consequences,” she added.
Meta said it would appeal against the ruling and there would be no immediate disruption to Facebook in Europe.
The company said the root of the issue stemmed from a “conflict of law” between US rules on access to data and the privacy rights of Europeans. EU and US policymakers were on a “clear path” to resolving this conflict under a new transatlantic Data Privacy Framework.
The European Data Protection Board “chose to disregard the clear progress that policymakers are making to resolve this underlying issue,” Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, and Jennifer Newstead, the company’s chief legal officer, said in a statement.
“This decision is flawed, unjustified and sets a dangerous precedent for the countless other companies transferring data between the EU and US,” they claimed.
“The ability for data to be transferred across borders is fundamental to how the global open internet works. Thousands of businesses and other organizations rely on the ability to transfer data between the EU and the US in order to operate and provide services that people use every day,” they added.
The tech giant had also run into a controversy in India as it was not following the same rules for data protection that were required in the west. WhatsApp, which which is also owned by Meta, had tried to force its users in India to allow it to share their personal data with Facebook if they wanted to use the app.
The authorities had to move in to restrain the company and court cases were also filed on the issue.