Zuckerberg Fined $1.3 Billion In Europe

Zuckerberg fined $1.3 billion in Europe in a legal battle that began in 2013 when Austrian lawyer and privacy activist Max Schrems initiated the proceedings.

The European Union slapped Meta with a record $1.3 billion privacy fine Monday and ordered it to stop transferring users’ personal information across the Atlantic by October, the latest salvo in a decadelong case sparked by U.S. cybersnooping fears.

The penalty of 1.2 billion euros is the biggest since the EU’s strict data privacy regime took effect five years ago, surpassing Amazon’s 746 million euro fine in 2021 for data protection violations.

Meta, which had previously warned that services for its users in Europe could be cut off, vowed to appeal and ask courts to immediately put the decision on hold.

The company said “there is no immediate disruption to Facebook in Europe.” The decision applies to user data like names, email and IP addresses, messages, viewing history, geolocation data and other information that Meta- and other tech giants like Google-use for targeted online ads.

“This decision is flawed, unjustified and sets a dangerous precedent for the countless other companies transferring data between the EU and U.S.,” Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, and chief legal officer Jennifer Newstead said in a statement.

It’s yet another twist in a legal battle that began in 2013 when Austrian lawyer and privacy activist Max Schrems filed a complaint about Facebook’s handling of his data following former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations of electronic surveillance by U.S. security agencies. That included the disclosure that Facebook gave the agencies access to the personal data of Europeans.

The saga has highlighted the clash between Washington and Brussels over the differences between Europe’s strict view on data privacy and the comparatively lax regime in the U.S., which lacks a federal privacy law. The EU has been a global leader in reining in the power of Big Tech with a series of regulations forcing them police their platforms more strictly and protect users’ personal information.

An agreement covering EU-U.S. data transfers known as the Privacy Shield was struck down in 2020 by the EU’s top court, which said it didn’t do enough to protect residents from the U.S. government’s electronic prying. Monday’s decision confirmed that another tool to govern data transfers — stock legal contracts — was also invalid.

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