Meta breached your privacy for the sake of adverts — and has been fined $1.3bn as a result

Facebook app icon
(Image credit: Pexals / Pixabay)

The owner of FaceBook, Meta, has been ordered to pay $1.3 billion in a massive fine after it was discovered that the company was sending its user's data from Europe to the United States.

The fine, according to the BBC,  comes from Irelands Data Protection Commission (DPC), and is the "largest imposed under the EU's General Data Protection Regulation privacy law."

It's all down to the EU's GDPR rules that companies have to comply with if they want to do business within the European Union, and want to transfer user data out of Europe.

Big problem, big fine

The breaches in question see Meta send EU residents' data to the US, where EU regulatory boards are worried that it will be seen and used by US intelligence and leave users open to the US's less stringent privacy laws.

Facebook and Meta use SSC, or 'standard contractual clauses' that store data and allow it to be sent from Europe to the US. Meta says that "We are therefore disappointed to have been singled out when using the same legal mechanism as thousands of other companies looking to provide services in Europe." The data was being transferred for ad use.

Those SSCs have been allowed by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), as long as there were sufficient protections in place for EU residents' data – it is here that Meta has been found lacking.

The battle has been 10 years in the making, and this is a landmark victory for privacy bodies in the EU. While Meta wants to fight the ruling, the case has been lauded by experts as something that will set a precedent for similar cases in the future. Some, however, think that Meta will not change its ways, and instead continue with the same practices that netted it this record braking fine.

Tammy Rogers
Senior Staff Writer

As iMore's Senior Staff writer, Tammy uses her background in audio and Masters in screenwriting to pen engaging product reviews and informative buying guides. The resident audiophile (or audio weirdo), she's got an eye for detail and a love of top-quality sound. Apple is her bread and butter, with attention on HomeKit and Apple iPhone and Mac hardware. You won't find her far away from a keyboard even outside of working at iMore – in her spare time, she spends her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays. Also known to enjoy driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.