Meta has been issued a record 1.2 billion euro fine ($1.3 billion) by a European Union privacy regulator for the way it handles user data when transferring it between Europe and the United States.
The fine has been handed out by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission and is the largest fine ever imposed by the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation law. According to the commission, Meta continued to transfer data to the United States from Europe after a 2020 EU court ruling that invalidated a transfer pact between the two regions.
The fine breaks the previous record of 746 million euros, which was handed to Amazon by Luxembourg in 2021. Meta described the decision as “unjustified and unnecessary,” and said it will appeal the ruling.
The ruling is the latest episode of a decade-long battle by privacy advocates. In 2013, Edward Snowden, a former US National Security Agency contractor revealed that American authorities had repeatedly accessed person information via technology companies like Google and Facebook.
After that disclosure, privacy campaigner Max Schrems filed a legal challenge against Facebook for failing to protect the privacy rights of its users. This was the beginning of the legal fight over transferring data between Europe and the United States which is still ongoing.
Meta has said that it expects a new pact facilitating the transfer of data between the United States and the EU would be implemented before it is forced to suspend transfers. If a suspension were to occur, the company could be forced to block Facebook services in Europe, Meta has warned.
“Without the ability to transfer data across borders, the internet risks being carved up into national and regional silos,” a statement read.