Facebook has said it will stop operating in Europe because of the actions of regulators. As reported by Vice, Facebook has made a strong threat in order to try and force European regulators to give way over the transfer of data.
This is not the first time Facebook has tried to take action in Europe to influence its policy decisions. Back in July, it flipped the script and sued the EU over data requests. Back in 2019, a report revealed the extent of how large Facebook's anti-privacy lobbying effort in Europe.
If Facebook was to follow through with this threat it would pull its services from over 400 million users on the continent. This all comes about after the EU looks to tighten up on Facebook's ability to transfer data across the Atlantic.
Facebook threatens to pull its European operations
In a court filing, Facebook has said that a decision by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) would force the company to pull its European operations. This would leave over 400 million users without access to Facebook or Instagram.
Yvonne Cunnane, who is Facebook Ireland’s head of data protection and associate general counsel, was the individual to make the statement. It read "it is not clear to [Facebook] how, in those circumstances, it could continue to provide the Facebook and Instagram services in the EU".
This all comes back to a preliminary order to stop the data transfer of European customers to servers in the U.S. The reason for the order was due to concerns over U.S. government surveillance of users data.
Facebook then hit back by filing a lawsuit over Irish DPC’s ban. It has now gone further by leveling accusations about the Irish data-protection commissioner. These include a lack of fairness and also a bias in singling out Facebook.
Facebook raises fairness issues over DPC ban
Cunnane has pointed out that Facebook only got given three weeks to respond to the decision. She describes the period as "manifestly inadequate".
She also raises concerns about the fact that the decision was made solely by Helen Dixon, Ireland’s data protection commissioner. Cunnane then raised concerns that "[Facebook] is not being treated equally".
The DPC has refused to comment on the issue. Facebook has said that they are not trying to threaten the EU. However, the company points out that they "rely on data transfers between the EU and the US".
Facebook's challenge on the ban has been allowed which has delayed it for now. The main issue Facebook has with the decision made by regulators in Europe is that it would fundamentally affect their business model.
Facebook relies on the fast and easy transfer of data across the globe. That allows them to quickly target users with ads.
However, privacy experts believe that this threat is little more than an empty promise. So do not expect Facebook to leave the European market as that is very unlikely. However, the whole legal situation does raise a lot of issues with the way data is transferred across the world.