Meta has been fined a record-breaking €1.2 billion ($1.3 billion) by European Union regulators for transferring the personal data of Facebook’s EU users to servers in the United States.
The European Data Protection Board announced the fine in a statement Monday, saying it followed an inquiry into Facebook
(FB) by the Irish Data Protection Commission, the chief regulator overseeing Meta’s operations in Europe.
The fine is the largest ever levied under Europe’s signature data privacy law, known as the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. 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, which also owns WhatsApp and Instagram, said it would appeal the ruling, including the fine. There would be no immediate disruption to Facebook in Europe, it added.
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 added.
“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.”
— This is a developing story and will be updated.