LOLs keep piling up. Cost of doing business. Nevertheless, Meta came out swinging against it.
By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.
Meta, which owns Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, and whose business model from day one has been to collect and monetize data on users and non-users alike, was fined a record €1.2 billion ($1.3 billion) by the EU’s European Data Protection Board for Facebook’s violations of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), not for collecting this data in the first place, but for sending this data from EU residents to the US.
“This fine, which is the largest GDPR fine ever, was imposed for Meta’s transfers of personal data to the U.S. on the basis of standard contractual clauses (SCCs) since 16 July 2020,” the statement said.
The prior record fine of €746 million ($806 million) was levied on Amazon in 2021.
LOL#1: “Meta has been ordered to bring its data transfers into compliance with the GDPR” within six months, the regulator announced – meaning, that it could still collect the personal data of European residents and use their personal data, LOL, but would have to stop processing the data in the US.
“The EDPB found that Meta IE’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,” the statement said.
The decision was the result of an inquiry into Facebook by the Irish Data Protection Commission, the regulator overseeing Meta’s operations in Europe. Ireland is where the European headquarters of Meta, Apple, Twitter, and Google are located thanks to the special tax treatment Ireland has used to lure them there, including a low corporate income tax of 12.5%.
LOL#2: This huge “unprecedented” magnitude of the fine amounts to… let’s see… in 2022, Meta had a pre-tax profit of $28.2 billion, or about $77.2 million per calendar day. So the $1.3 billion fine (pre-tax) would amount to about 17 calendar days of pretax income.
So two weeks plus Monday through Wednesday of pretax income. Not even a slap on the wrist for a company of this size. Just part of the cost of doing business.
LOL#3: Meta came out swinging as you’d expect, with a long-ish thingy about how the internet works and why data transfers are part of it. “This decision is flawed, unjustified and sets a dangerous precedent for the countless other companies transferring data between the EU and US,” they said.
“The ability for data to be transferred across borders is fundamental to how the global open internet works. Thousands of businesses and other organizations 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,” they said.
“We will appeal the ruling, including the unjustified and unnecessary fine, and seek a stay of the orders through the courts,” they said.
And they said all this when the underlying problem is the all-pervasive data collection itself – not where the data is being processed. But then consumers have known all this for years, and they see all the warnings that pop up on screen in the EU and elsewhere in compliance with GDPR, and they’re still using Facebook though life reportedly works just fine without it. OK, so be it, and let’s slap some wrists to show how powerful this regulation is, LOL#4.
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