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Facebook threatens to flounce out of Europe over Irish data transfer decision

A European court recently ruled that data transfers to the US flout GDPR rules, but Facebook doesn’t see how it can continue without them.

Scott Bicheno

September 22, 2020

2 Min Read
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A European court recently ruled that data transfers to the US flout GDPR rules, but Facebook doesn’t see how it can continue without them.

Like many other US internet giants, Facebook bases its European operations in Ireland. The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC), having applauded the court decision, told Facebook to stop transferring European user data to the US. In response the Head of Data Protection and Privacy for Facebook Ireland, Yvonne Cunnane, has applied for a judicial review of the decision and filed an affidavit to support it.

In the filing, which we can read courtesy of Vice, Cunnane note she was surprised to receive the preliminary draft decision of the DPC that data transfers should be suspended. She notes that she was only given three weeks to respond to the preliminary decision, which she thinks is too little. On top of that Cunnane accuses the DPC of communication details of is process to Max Schrems, but not Facebook itself.

There’s lots more moaning about timings and procedural injustices, including the very reasonable question of whether any other US internet companies are getting the same treatment. Eventually Cunnane cuts to the chase with the following statement, in which ‘the Applicant’ is Facebook.

“Indeed, in the event that the Applicant were subject to a complete suspension of the transfer of users’ data to the US, as appears to be 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.”

That statement was followed by a sequence of narratives detailing the apocalyptic consequences to European civilisation as we know it if its people are denied this essential utility. Accordingly Cunnane call upon the court to stay the DPC’s hand so that all this stuff can get sorted out. If the court denies that request, things could get really interesting.

About the Author(s)

Scott Bicheno

As the Editorial Director of Telecoms.com, Scott oversees all editorial activity on the site and also manages the Telecoms.com Intelligence arm, which focuses on analysis and bespoke content.
Scott has been covering the mobile phone and broader technology industries for over ten years. Prior to Telecoms.com Scott was the primary smartphone specialist at industry analyst Strategy Analytics’. Before that Scott was a technology journalist, covering the PC and telecoms sectors from a business perspective.
Follow him @scottbicheno

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