European leaders have embraced Meta’s indirect warning to shut down its Facebook and Instagram operations across Europe if the social media giant is no longer able to process Europeans’ data on US servers.
Last night, Germany’s new economy minister Robert Habeck told reporters during a meeting in Paris: “After I was hacked I have lived without Facebook and Twitter for four years and life has been fantastic.
Speaking alongside his German colleague, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire added: “I can confirm that life would be very good without Facebook and that we would live very well without Facebook.”
“Digital giants must understand that the European continent will resist and affirm its sovereignty.”French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire
The two leaders commented on Meta’ statement that if it is not given the option to transfer, store and process data from its European users on US-based servers, Facebook and Instagram may be shut down across Europe.
The social media giants’ owner reportedly warned in its annual report that the key issue for Meta is transatlantic data transfers, regulated via the so-called Privacy Shield and other model agreements that Meta uses or used to store data from European users on American servers.
In a recent report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Meta warned that if a data transfer framework is not adopted and the company is no longer allowed to use the current model agreements “or alternatives,” the company will “probably” no longer be able to offer many of its “most significant products and services,” including Facebook and Instagram, in the EU, according to various media reports.
Sharing data between countries and regions is crucial for the provision of its services and targeted advertising, Meta stressed. The current agreements to enable data transfers are currently under heavy scrutiny in the EU.
Therefore, it previously used the transatlantic data transfer framework called Privacy Shield as the legal basis to carry out those data transfers.
However, this treaty was annulled by the European Court of Justice in July 2020, because of data protection violations.
Since then, the EU and the US did stress they are working on a new or updated version of the treaty.
When approached by City A.M., a spokesperson for Meta said: “We have absolutely no desire and no plans to withdraw from Europe, but the simple reality is that Meta, and many other businesses, organisations and services, rely on data transfers between the EU and the US in order to operate global services.”
“We are closely monitoring the potential impact on our European operations as these developments progress.”A Meta spokesperson speaking to City A.M.
“Like other companies, we have followed European rules and rely on Standard Contractual Clauses, and appropriate data safeguards, to operate a global service,” he added.
“Fundamentally, businesses need clear, global rules to protect transatlantic data flows over the long term”
“Like more than 70 other companies across a wide range of industries, we are closely monitoring the potential impact on our European operations as these developments progress,” he concluded.