In what is the largest privacy fine in European history, Facebook’s parent company Meta has been fined €1.2 billion by European privacy regulators. The move comes on the heels of findings that the company had transferred data from European users to the United States.
This unprecedented punitive action reflects efforts by the European Union to legally prevent Facebook from moving European user data to the US over fears that this data might be accessible to US intelligence agencies.
Europe is known for its strict privacy laws, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), intended to protect the personal data of its citizens. In contrast, privacy laws in the United States are considerably less strict.
Andrea Jelinek, president of the European privacy watchdog, describes Meta’s breach as “extremely serious” given the amount of data belonging to Europe’s millions of users. She notes that the amount of the fine is a strong signal that serious violations of privacy regulations will not go unpunished.
This isn’t the first time Meta has faced fines in 2023. Earlier this year, the Irish privacy regulator Data Privacy Commissioner (DPC) fined the company €390 million for using user data for personalized advertising. In addition, Meta subsidiary Instagram was fined €405 million in September and Meta itself was fined €265 million in November.