Meta, the company previously known as Facebook, does not agree with the European Union’s plans. In fact, the American party says it would have to take spirited steps. Should we live without Facebook and Instagram in Europe?
It does seem that way when you read Meta’s annual report. The American company sends such a report to the US Securities and Exchange Commission every year. The US regulator is better known as the SEC.
Meta wants to exchange data
To understand Meta’s comment, we must first go back to the origin. What exactly is going on?
Mark Zuckerberg (Image: EPA / Michael Reynolds)
U.S. companies, operating in Europe, store the collected data of European citizens on U.S. servers. This is made possible by a transatlantic data transfer framework called Privacy Shield. A framework used by Meta, the company behind Facebook and Instagram, to legally exchange and store that data. In addition, the company also uses Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs).
Both the framework and the agreement are now under pressure in Europe. The Privacy Shield was ruled by the European Court of Justice to be in breach of the General Data Protection Regulation (AVG) and therefore nullified in 2020. The Irish Data Protection Commission (IDPC) added to that in the same year by also suspending those SCCs. The result: Meta must find a new way for Facebook and Instagram to legally process and store the data.
Facebook and Instagram out of Europe?
If Europe does not come up with a new treaty and Meta is only allowed to store its data in Europe, the company says it will be in trouble. In its annual report, the giant lets the U.S. SEC know that this will prevent it from functioning in our continent. “If we cannot move data between countries and regions in which we operate, we cannot possibly provide our services,” the report reads.
That’s why Meta expects a new treaty from Europe, because the alternative is quite simple, according to the company. “If a new transatlantic data transfer framework is not implemented or we cannot continue with the current SCCs we will likely be unable to offer a number of products and services, including Facebook and Instagram.”
According to Facebook, the main reason is that it can no longer target ads to the right audience, hitting the company financially.
Are Facebook and Instagram really going to disappear?
Meta, of course, put such a comment in an annual report to a U.S. regulator for a reason. The company wants to use Facebook and Instagram to ratchet up the pressure so it can have its way in Europe. But is it actually willing to go through with such an action?
That chance, given the money Meta makes and can continue to make in Europe, is very small as far as we are concerned. This becomes clear after a Meta spokesperson gives the following statement to our website:
‘We have absolutely no intention nor plans to leave Europe. But the fact is that Meta, like many other companies, organizations and service providers, depends on data exchange between the EU and the US to continue offering global services.’