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  • MaryGrace Lerin

Facebook and Instagram Continue to Operate in Europe Under a New Data Transfer Agreement

It appears that Facebook and Instagram will remain operational in Europe.

Back then, there was a significant flurry of concern over the future of Meta's applications in Europe early last month after Meta posted the following note in an SEC update:

“In August 2020, we received a preliminary draft decision from the Irish Data Protection Commission (IDPC) that preliminarily concluded that Meta Platforms Ireland's reliance on Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) in respect of European user data does not achieve compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and preliminarily proposed that such transfers of user data from the European Union to the United States should therefore be suspended. If a new transatlantic data transfer framework is not adopted and we are unable to continue to rely on SCCs or rely upon other alternative means of data transfers from Europe to the United States, we will likely be unable to offer a number of our most significant products and services, including Facebook and Instagram, in Europe.”

This isn't a new situation; in 2020, the EU privacy regulator gave Meta a preliminary order suspending data transfers to the US per GDPR requirements. Since then, Meta has been working on a remedy, although it mentioned this in its SEC guidelines (which it had previously noted in some of its SEC notes) to provide complete risk disclosure.

However, perhaps as a result of the phrasing, reports increased, forcing Meta to give an official statement, stating that the company had "no desire to withdraw from Europe."

With the President of the EU Commission declaring that a new, preliminary agreement on transatlantic data transfers had been negotiated with the United States, it appears that it will cease to be an issue regardless.

Then all that anxiety went for naught - albeit there was a chance that Meta's services would have been pulled from the EU if they hadn't managed to attain an agreement at the time.

However, the news at the time revealed that many Europeans were unconcerned about the prospect of a world without Facebook, with many appearing to welcome the shift if it came.

According to Bloomberg:

"After being hacked I've lived without Facebook and Twitter for four years and life has been fantastic," German Economy Minister Robert Habeck told reporters at an event alongside French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire in Paris on Monday. "I can confirm that life is very good without Facebook and that we would live very well without Facebook," Le Maire added.”

It would be quite intriguing to observe how things would have been without Facebook and Instagram to gauge their actual influence.

Nevertheless, many individuals have become dependent on these platforms for both commercial and personal reasons, hence there would be bad effects in addition to the ostensible advantages.

All of this is just academic though, since this new agreement appears to ensure that Facebook will stay accessible to Europeans in the coming years.

Depending on the point of view, Europeans may either relax or regret what could've been.

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