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Facebook and Instagram face Europe ban over privacy dispute

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The Irish Data Protection Commission ruled that the data flow between Europe and the US for Meta’s Facebook and Instagram should be blocked (Getty Images)
The Irish Data Protection Commission ruled that the data flow between Europe and the US for Meta’s Facebook and Instagram should be blocked (Getty Images)

Facebook and Instagram could be forced offline in Europe after an Irish watchdog ruled that their parent company Meta could not share Europeans’ data with the US.

If agreed by EU regulators, both social media platforms will be unavailable to European users this summer, Politico reported on Thursday.

Meta confirmed the decision by Ireland’s privacy regulator, though did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Independent.

“This draft decision, which is subject to review by European Data Protection Authorities, relates to a conflict of EU and US law which is in the process of being resolved,” a Meta spokesperson told Politico.

“We welcome the EU-US agreement for a new legal framework that will allow the continued transfer of data across borders, and we expect this framework will allow us to keep families, communities and economies connected.”

Facebook has more than 300 million daily active users in Europe, accounting for more than 10 per cent of all users globally.

There is an even higher percentage of Instagram users in Europe, with more than a quarter of all users based there.

The blocking order from the Irish Data Protection Commission has been sent to other European privacy regulators, who will give their input to the ruling over the next month.

The dispute comes after years of court battles between privacy activists and the US technology giant, which saw the European Court of Justice annul an EU-US data flow agreement called Privacy Shield in 2020.

In a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission in March, Meta wrote: “If a new transatlantic data transfer framework is not adopted and we are unable to continue to rely on SCCs or rely upon other alternative means of data transfers from Europe to the United States, we will likely be unable to offer a number of our most significant products and services, including Facebook and Instagram, in Europe.”