Meta said it is considering shutting down Facebook and Instagram in Europe if it cannot continue to transfer user data to the United States. The social media giant issued the warning in its annual report.

Regulators in Europe are currently working on new legislation that will determine how user data of EU citizens is transferred across the Atlantic.

If a new framework for transatlantic data transmission is not adopted and we cannot continue to rely on the SCC or rely on other alternative means of data transmission from Europe to the United States, we will likely not be able to deliver a number of the most important Our products and services, including Facebook and Instagram, in Europe. The company added that this may materially and negatively affect its business, financial position and results of operations.

European MP Axel Voss, who previously wrote some EU data protection legislation, said via Twitter: “Meta cannot blackmail the EU into abandoning data protection standards.”

A Meta spokesperson stated that the company has no desire and does not plan to withdraw from Europe. Adding that it raised the same concerns in previous filings.

He said: META and many other companies, organizations and services rely on data transfers between the European Union and the United States to operate their global services.

The debate is still going on

In August 2020, the Irish Security Commission sent Facebook a preliminary order to stop the transfer of user data from the European Union to the United States.

Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communications, said at the time: “The Irish Data Protection Commission has launched an investigation into data transfers between the European Union and the United States. It suggested that the SCC could not be used for data transfers between the European Union and the United States.

He added, “This approach is subject to further operations.” But if followed, it could have a far-reaching impact on businesses that rely on SCC and on the online services that many people and businesses rely on.

The Irish Data Protection Commission is expected to issue a final decision in the first half of 2022.

If the SCC cannot be used as a legal basis for data transfer, Facebook will have to isolate the majority of the data it collects from European users.

The Irish Data Protection Commission could impose a fine of up to 4 percent of its annual revenue, or $2.8 billion if it fails to comply.

Meta problem with data sharing

The European Court of Justice ruled in July 2020 that the data transfer standard does not adequately protect the privacy of European citizens.

The court placed restrictions on how US companies could send European user data to the US. It came after it concluded that EU citizens had no way to challenge US government surveillance.

US agencies can require companies such as Facebook and Google to hand over data on an EU citizen.

The European Court of Justice ruling came after Austrian activist Max Schrems filed a lawsuit. The lawsuit argued that US law does not provide adequate protection against surveillance by public authorities.

Shremes raised a complaint against Facebook, which was transferring his and other user data to the United States.

The court ruling invalidated the Privacy Shield Agreement between the European Union and the United States. This agreement allowed companies to send data from European Union citizens across the Atlantic. As a result, companies have had to rely on SCC.

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