EU orders Facebook to stop sharing user data to the US

Rising concerns of data surveillance is about to set the digital realm on fire. Governments are setting up policies to guard how companies handle user data worldwide.

A European Union privacy watchdog has ordered Facebook to suspend its data transfers to the US about EU users, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The report says EU officials have growing concerns about possible surveillance practices by the US government.

They want to limit these practices by controlling the flow of user information—to keep user data within each region and to stop access from other nations.

The move follows the US government decision to ban several Chinese-originated apps from America, including TikTok. They contend that China’s ruling CCP may require the apps to send personal data on US citizens.

China’s cybersecurity laws say that Chinese-owned companies must provide user data to the CCP on request. And the rising tensions between the US and China is not helping. 

The US does not require digital platforms to share their user data with the government. But the EU has found credible concerns on potential data access of volumes of data on EU citizens, as these are stored in US servers.

How it all started

The order follows a European Court of Justice ruling in July. It found that this data sharing “exposed Europeans to American government surveillance without actionable rights to challenge it”.

The ruling sparked investigations about possible new laws to restrict the transfer of user info. While TikTok’s case is separate from this ruling, it may have some influence on the decision to push for data separation. 

As the largest social network, Facebook is the main focus now. But it may have a big impact on all digital platforms with multinational presence. It will force them to split data storage worldwide, based on agreements.

A key issue on how to manage the local impacts of the digital giants is to ensure that they pay their fair share. Major platforms have reduced their tax obligations by housing their datacenters and operations in low-cost nations.

The Australian government plans to make Facebook and Google pay local new publishers for the use of their content. It will reallocate the earnings of tech giants to the scrambling local news sector.

Facebook and Google have already said they will stop using local publisher content if the government plans to push it forward.

Why not ask Google and Facebook to build local datacenters instead? It will ensure that local user data stay within each nation. And governments can tax these tech giants under local laws.

Implementing regulations to limit global growth through localized data storage will allow new players to enter the market.

Regulators can set thresholds on the number of users or revenue as well.

We have to consider several factors in this approach. But it may offer a more reasonable way to limit data access and ensure the tech giants pay their fair share.

We are entering a new age of data control. And each region has to consider their approach to the possible effects. 

Author: Francis Rey

Francis is a voracious reader and prolific writer. He has been writing about social media and technology for more than 10 years. During off hours, he relishes moments with his wife and daughter.

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