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Imagine a world without Facebook and Instagram! It might be called Europe this summer

By Sanuj Bhatia July 8, 2022, 12:45 pm
instagram pocketnow

Instagram and Facebook play an essential role in our life. For some it's about their business, for some it's about marketing and advertising, for some it's about casual feed scrolling and watching memes, while some can't even imagine a day without checking Instagram. But it could all come to a halt as Ireland's Data Protection Commission could force Meta to take its services such as Facebook and Instagram offline from Europe this summer.

Background

Earlier this year, Meta submitted a report to the Securities and Exchange Commission highlighting a scenario where it would have to shut down Facebook and Instagram in Europe. Meta, in the report, claimed that it processes data across the continents of Europe and America as it is essential for its business.

POCKETNOW VIDEO OF THE DAY

However, Europe's latest laws require the company to keep (and process) user data on Europe's servers only. Meta didn't comply with the rules and instead threatened that it would stop offering significant services, including Instagram and Facebook, in Europe.

What are the new developments in this case?

EU US data transfer Source: TechSpot

On Thursday, the Irish Data Protection Commission informed Data Protection Commissions of other European Union countries that it will block Meta, and subsequently Instagram and Facebook, from sending user data from Europe to the US (via Politico). Ireland's DPC says that Meta cannot be allowed to take European users' data across Atlantic because these services are subject to American laws in the United States, and because of that, it can give surveillance agencies access to information about the European users.

In 2020, the European Court of Justice (CJEU) annulled the EU-US data flow pact due to the fears of the same surveillance practices. At the time, CJEU made it harder for US-based companies to transfer personal data between the two continents. To resolve this, The White House has been working to strike a deal with the EU to keep the data moving. The two sides reached a preliminary agreement in March, however, the final agreement is yet to be reached.

This draft decision, which is subject to review by European Data Protection Authorities, relates to a conflict of EU and U.S. law which is in the process of being resolved. We welcome the EU-U.S. agreement for a new legal framework that will allow the continued transfer of data across borders, and we expect this framework will allow us to keep families, communities, and economies connected.

— Meta

It's worth noting that the Irish watchdog's decision doesn't automatically apply across all the countries of Europe. Instead, the European Union officials at Europe's Data Protection Board will now have one month to take a decision on whether the EU and US data sharing will be blocked or not. Any objections, which have been regularly lodged in such cases, would add months to the process.

So, will Instagram and Facebook really stop working in the summer?

Pixel 6 in hand Source: Pocketnow video

It's highly unlikely for now. As stated above, data protection regulators of the other European Union countries have a month to voice objections to Ireland's DPC order. Moreover, Meta can also appeal in court, which could result in a long delay. It's also possible that the EU and the White House reach an agreement on the data pact, however, some suggest that a deal is unlikely to be reached before the end of the year.

On the other hand, it's also worth noting that the order only applies to Facebook and Instagram. Other Meta services, like WhatsApp, won't be affected as it falls under a different data controller within the group.

And oh, while you're here, make sure to read my colleague Anton D. Nagy's excellent piece on How to disconnect and break free of the very thing that’s hurting you more than you know.

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