Meta’s just announced that it may be forced to suspend operations in the EU -- putting pressure on US and EU lawmakers to quickly agree on a new data-sharing agreement. If they don't reach an agreement, it could force US social media companies to suspend operations.
But the US just put forward a proposal for the agreement, and if it’s adopted, it would be a major setback to European citizens' data protection – serving up sensitive information on a silver platter to the likes of US spy agencies.
A decision could be made any day now – it’s absolutely critical that EU lawmakers hear from people across the region before it’s too late.
The previous data-sharing agreement between the US and EU, known as Privacy Shield, was struck down by the EU court of justice after an Austrian privacy activist filed a complaint. He argued that by Facebook sending his data to the US, he was giving up his personal information to American spy agencies – without any EU-style data privacy controls or legal pathways for EU citizens to take.
Now the US is proposing to set up a legal mechanism for EU citizens to file data protection complaints in the US if they feel their data has been used unlawfully. This would be a disaster for the EU to accept. It would force European citizens to go through dizzying legal processes in a justice system that doesn’t even have basic data protection for its own citizens.
If the governments don’t reach a data-sharing agreement, this would not necessarily spell the end of US social media companies in Europe -- they would just be required to process user data in European jurisdictions instead of relying on US servers.
But so far negotiations are happening behind closed doors and people across the EU deserve a say in how their data is shared with other countries. Lawmakers are discussing this right now – it’s critical that we all pile on now and show EU lawmakers people are demanding stronger data protection.
Politico. 3 February 2021.
Fortune. 7 February 2021.