Meta, Facebook and Instagram threatened with disappearance in Europe

The parent company of Facebook and Instagram, Meta, risks leaving Europe by the end of the summer, due to a tightening of European rules on data management and user privacy. Will we still be able to access Facebook and Instagram in a few weeks? Focus on this case that hit the Tech giant and the issues behind it.

Facebook and Instagram could disappear from European territory following the shock measure adopted by Ireland on July 7. The country has blocked the transfer of data from its users to the United States and demands that other European countries do the same. Ireland has gone even further by banning transfers between the Old Continent and the United States in all European countries.

The Irish Commission (Data Protection Commission) indeed sent the document of the decision to the other countries, urging them to impose the same ban on Meta. This decision is all the more surprising since Ireland is a land of welcome for the giants of Tech, in particular thanks to its tax exemptions and its more flexible rules.

The Tech Meta giant is therefore forced to adapt its applications to this new rule and, if it does not succeed in finding common ground with Europe, it will then be banned. However, the group has clearly expressed its desire to remain established in Europe: “ We have absolutely no desire and no plans to withdraw from Europe.said a spokesperson for Meta, this Monday, with Le Parisien.

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Meta’s response to this critical situation in Ireland

Meta has 427 million users in Europe, or 14% of its users worldwide. “We have absolutely no desire and no plans to withdraw from Europe, but the simple reality is that Meta, and many other companies, organizations and services, depend on data transfers between the EU and US states. United to operate global services. Like other companies, we have followed EU rules and rely on standard contractual clauses and appropriate data protections to operate a global service,” details at the Parisian, this spokesperson for Meta.

Jérôme Dalmont, lawyer at Itlaw. sees this decision as a political pressure. It is hard to see Meta depriving itself of the European market, it is more of a threat to push the European Union and the United States to come to an agreement. » This also jeopardizes thousands of jobs in Europe, especially that the group had planned to create, within five years, 10,000 jobs in Europe to work on the metaverse.

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The countdown is on: towards a departure from Meta by the end of the summer?

The Irish authority has imposed a one-month deadline for the commissions responsible for data protection in European countries to decide on the subject. If this deadline has passed, it will be very likely that Facebook and Instagram will disappear in Europe. This is not the first time that the group’s applications have been threatened on the European continent. In 2020, Ireland had already taken the same decision and Mark Zuckerberg had threatened to cut off access to Facebook and Instagram on the Old Continent.

This time, the threat is all the more important since it involves the other countries of Europe. Politico interviewed Meta and the firm said: “This interim decision, which is subject to review by European data protection authorities, relates to a conflict between European law and US law which is in the process of being resolved. We welcome the agreement between the United States and the European Union establishing a new legal framework that will allow data transfers across borders. »

Discussions are thus conducted between the two parties (Meta and the European authorities) in order to find common ground. It is obviously not possible for Meta to withdraw from the European continent, it would cause it to lose an incalculable number of users. The American giant clearly cannot do without this market. But there is no guarantee that they will succeed in finding a compromise.

Read also: Facebook will open a Metaverse Academy in France from the start of the 2022 school year

A turnaround for Meta in Europe

The current situation is the result of fears around US surveillance programs. Indeed, US activities relating to online surveillance are at the root of a large number of transatlantic disputes over the transfer of data. Meta therefore has no other choice, the company must align itself with the decision of the Data Protection Commissionotherwise it could end up illegal.

In the past, the forces were reversed. Meta had put pressure on the Old Continent and threatened to leave the territory. However, it is no longer the same today. In February 2022, Mark Zuckerberg’s company explained that it could not “not stay in Europe if the rules governing the transfer of data were shattered”.

Today, Meta has changed its tune: “We hope this legal framework will allow us to keep families, communities and economies connected.” The company does not rule out the possibility that no legal framework will be to its advantage in the coming weeks. The task proved very difficult for the group, whosedata usage of Internet users has been causing a lot of ink to flow for several years now, especially following the scandal Cambridge Analytica.

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