The European Union has hit Facebook’s parent company Meta with a record $1.3 billion fine for privacy violations.
In addition to the fine, the EU ruled that the company must stop transferring users’ personal data to American servers by October.
The European Data Protection Board said in a press release on May 22 that the fine was imposed after an investigation by the Irish Data Protection Authority.
“The EDPB found that Meta IE’s infringement is very serious since it concerns transfers that are systematic, repetitive and continuous,” EDPB Chair Andrea Jelinek said in a statement. “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.”
The previous highest fine imposed under the General Data Protection Regulation was $805.7 million against Amazon in 2021.
Meta responded to the ruling in a statement saying, “The ability for data to be transferred across borders is fundamental to how the global open internet works. From finance and telecommunications to critical public services like healthcare or education, the free flow of data supports many of the services that we have come to rely on. Thousands of businesses and other organisations rely on the ability to transfer data between the EU and the US in order to operate and provide services that people use every day.”
“Without the ability to transfer data across borders, the internet risks being carved up into national and regional silos, restricting the global economy and leaving citizens in different countries unable to access many of the shared services we have come to rely on,” the statement continued. “That’s why providing a sound legal basis for the transfer of data between the EU and the US has been a political priority on both sides of the Atlantic for many years.”
Meta said that they had been “singled out” as thousands of other companies are “using the same legal mechanism” to provide services in Europe.
The company intends to appeal the ruling and said that there will not be an immediate disruption in service for European users.
Meta also owns WhatsApp and Instagram.