After an order was passed by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission to Facebook, barring it from transferring user data back to the US and fear grew that the social media platform will eventually pull out its services from Europe. However, a Facebook executive has finally responded to the matter and rubbished those fears.
Nick Clegg, Vice President at Facebook said, “We of course won’t [shut down in Europe] and the reason we won’t of course is precisely because we want to continue to serve customer and small and medium sized businesses in Europe”.
It all started when the Court of Justice of the European Union took down the EU-US data flow arrangement called Privacy Shield. This meant that companies were no longer allowed to transfer user data from the European region to the United States. The main reason cited for this was the inability of users in Europe to question the US government surveillance.
Later, the Ireland Data Protection Commission followed the ruling by CJEU and extended the ban on Facebook to transfer user data to the US. Press reports then emerged that Facebook, in response to the order by Ireland Data Protection Commission, filed a stay on the preliminary suspension order in a court in Dublin. The filing suggested that the platform could terminate its services in Europe if the ban on its data transfer is implemented.
To the legal filing in Dublin, Nick Clegg said, “We’ve taken legal action in the Dublin courts to – in a sense – to try to send a signal that this is a really big issue for the whole European economy, for all small and large companies that rely on data transfers”.
The Facebook VP has alerted of ‘profound effects’ if a solution is not figured out in the EU-US data transfer case. He says, now that the Privacy Shield inactive, policymakers have to make a new plan in EU-US data transfers. To this matter, he said, “What is at stake here is quite a big issue that in the end can only be resolved politically between a continued negotiation between the US and the EU that clearly is not going to happen until there’s a new US administration in place after the transition period in the early part of next year”.
He further claims that this sort of ban would not only affect Facebook but also ‘would be absolutely disastrous for the economy as a whole’.
Nick claims that close to 25 million European firms rely on Facebook for their business activities. He says the advertisement platform on Facebook has been used by European businesses to generate $208 billion in sales and has generated over 3 million jobs. He suggested that an order restricting Facebook to conduct its services in Europe would result in a huge loss for European businesses.
Nick said, “In terms of the economic recovery, our most important role is to continue to provide that extraordinary capacity for small businesses to do something which in the past only big businesses could do”. He added, “In the past only big businesses had the fancy marketing budgets and could take out bill boards and television and radio ads. The transformational effect of social media and Facebook in part economically speaking is that it’s levelled the playing field”.
Facebook has been under tremendous pressure from the European Union over its conduct in the region. Various national regulators across Europe have continuously kept Facebook under its scanner, suspecting the social media platform of exploiting users’ data and violating EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).