DPC informs European regulators in April about Facebook investigation

The Data Protection Commission (DPC) has closed its investigation into Facebook’s data-sharing practices. Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has already received the findings from the Irish regulator. The social network has 28 days to respond to the report. Privacy watchdogs from other European member states are expected to be informed about the conclusions in April.

That writes the American news agency Reuters.

Cross the Privacy Shield

The case arose when the European Court of Justice ruled in the summer of 2020 that the Privacy Shield – which regulates the exchange of data between the EU and other countries – is no longer legally valid. The Court ruled that this agreement did not provide sufficient guarantees to protect the privacy and data of European citizens. For example, Europeans cannot object if American security services want to see their data. The lack of protection is contrary to the proportionality principle of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), according to the judge.

The Court ruled that data could be exchanged with the US if European and American companies work with so-called Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) or model contracts. This contains agreements about how personal data is processed. They should contain the same or better privacy guarantees as to the European rules in this area.

DPC allowed to continue investigation into Facebook

That was not the case with Facebook, according to the Irish privacy watchdog DPC. In September 2020, a few months after the Privacy Shield was lifted, the regulator asked Facebook to no longer transfer the personal data of European citizens to the US. Or to collect less data, or to make new agreements about data exchange.

Facebook responded by saying it will appeal the decision. Stopping the transatlantic data flow would have “devastating and irreversible consequences” not only for business but also for public services and the entire European economy, according to Facebook. The Irish High Court ruled in favour of Facebook and ordered the DPC to put the investigation on hold for the time being.

In May 2021, the Irish regulator again received the green light from the Supreme Court to continue its investigation into Facebook’s user data exchange. According to the judge, Facebook had presented “no legal grounds” to challenge the DPC’s decision.

European regulators to receive DPC report in April

The DPC has now completed the investigation. The results were handed over to Facebook on Monday, according to Reuters news agency. Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has 28 days to respond to the findings of the Irish regulator. A DPC spokesperson declined to comment on the investigation report.

Before the DPC makes a final decision, it will ask the national privacy watchdogs of other European member states for advice. They may state whether they believe that their Irish colleagues’ research has been carried out well and whether the conclusions are justified. A DPC spokesperson confirmed to Reuters that they can expect the report in April.

Meta advocates a long-term solution

A spokeswoman for Meta confirms that she has received the report. “Suspending the data exchange will harm not only the millions of people, charities and companies in the EU who use our services, but also thousands of other companies that depend on the data transfer between the EU and the US to provide a global service. grant”, she repeated Meta’s now well-known position. According to her, a long-term solution for the transfer of data between the EU and the US is the only solution to force a breakthrough on this issue.

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