After reports surfaced that Meta, formerly Facebook, is ‘likely’ to pull Facebook and Instagram apps from Europe if prevented from transferring data from the EU to the US, the company has clarified that it is not wanting or is “threatening” to leave Europe and any reporting that implies “we do is simply not true”.
The clarification came after Meta’s comments made headlines across the globe, with German Economy Minister Robert Habeck and French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire reportedly clapping back at Meta’s “threat” by saying they would be okay with Facebook not having a presence in Europe.
In Meta’s annual 10-K filing to US regulators, the company wrote: “If a new transatlantic data transfer framework is not adopted, we will likely be unable to offer a number of our most significant products and services, including Facebook and Instagram, in Europe.”
According to Markus Reinisch, Vice President, Public Policy Europe, much like 70 other EU and the US companies, we are identifying a business risk resulting from uncertainty around international data transfers.
“This is not new. We’ve raised international data transfers in each of our earnings since at least Q2 2018, and highlighted the specific risk to our services in Europe and the need for a safe, secure EU-US data transfer mechanism in our last four earnings,” he said in a statement late on Tuesday.
“Like all publicly-traded companies, we are legally required to disclose material risks to our investors. Last week, as we have done in our previous four financial quarters, we disclosed that continuing uncertainty over EU-US data transfers mechanisms poses a threat to our ability to serve European consumers and operate our business in Europe,” he elaborated.
For several years, the legal framework supporting the transfer of data across the Atlantic has faced severe disruption.
The Safe Harbour Agreement was struck down by the European Court of Justice in 2015.
Last summer, the European Court of Justice also invalidated by Privacy Shield, which was used by more than 5,000 companies on both sides of the Atlantic.
Meta, however, said it has absolutely no desire to withdraw from Europe.
“But the simple reality is that Meta, like many other businesses, organisations and services, relies on data transfers between the EU and the US in order to operate our global services. We’re not alone,” said Reinisch.
“We want to see the fundamental rights of EU users protected, and we want the internet to continue to operate as it was intended: without friction, in compliance with applicable laws – but not confined by national borders,” said Meta.