Facebook owner Meta hit with Sh178.6bn fine over EU-US data transfer


Meta and Facebook logos. FILE PHOTO | AFP

Facebook owner Meta has been fined Sh178.6 billion (€1.2 billion) for mishandling users’ data when transferring it from Europe to servers in the United States.

The fine issued under the European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation is the largest to ever be imposed and it will also see the tech giant the transfer of people's data.

EU's GDPR spells out the regulations firms must follow when moving data outside of the economic bloc. Chapter 5 of GDPR contains how personal data can be transferred to other countries or international organisations.

Ireland's Data Protection Commission (DPC), EU's data protection law watchdog, said on Monday that the US social media firm violated the rules requiring safeguards for the transfer of data.

The regulator said the processing and storage of the data that was received from Meta's servers in Europe contravened the EU's data privacy law.

European Data Protection Board chair Andrea Jelinek said that Meta's infringement is “very serious since it concerns transfers that are systematic, repetitive and continuous”.

“Facebook has millions of users in Europe, so the volume of personal data transferred is massive. The unprecedented fine is a strong signal to organisations that serious infringements have far-reaching consequences,” she said.

Meta has said it will appeal against the ruling which it termed as "unjustified and unnecessary.

“We are disappointed to have been singled out when using the same legal mechanism as thousands of other companies looking to provide services in Europe,” Meta president of global affairs and chief legal officer Jennifer Newstead said in a blog post following the ruling.

“This decision is flawed, unjus­ti­fied and sets a dan­ger­ous pre­ced­ent for the count­less other com­pan­ies trans­fer­ring data between the EU and US.”

The fine comes at a time the global tech giant has restructured amid an economic slowdown that has seen advertising revenue slump following the Covid-19 pandemic boom.

This latest fine is the largest by EU regulators with the previous record of Sh111 billion (€746 million) against Amazon in 2021.

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