Time to panic over Meta/Facebook pulling out of Europe?

Those rumours on Facebook, are they true? What does it mean for your small business?

Here at the BWN, our INsiders benefit from some top experts on business. Here Insider Robyn Banks (Yes really her name) shares advice on the latest rumours on Facebook/Meta pulling out of Europe and what you need to know as a business owner.

Robyn Banks owns Adavista, a company specialising in ensuring you get the law right around data protection and freedom of information. The cost to small businesses of getting this wrong can be fines starting from £400. Every business (with few exceptions despite what you might read on social media) needs to be registered for example with the ICO. Not sure on what you are doing? On our confidential mastermind and networking group, you can ask Robyn anything and you get a discount to work with Robyn too. Not an Insider yet? Join here.

You may have seen lots of articles, even through Facebook, about Meta (Facebook’s parent company) pulling out of Europe.  As an expert in this industry here’s my thoughts on this;

Why would they?  This market is worth a lot of money to them.  There have also posted about Mark Zuckerberg losing a lot of money because people are turning away from Facebook.  May be this is a marketing ploy?

 Why are they “considering “if the market is worth a lot of money? 

Well, this has historical roots! Facebook – as well as Google – have fallen foul of many Information Commissioners across Europe over the years that has resulted in a lot of money in fines! They thought that, as big conglomerates, they could just walk over individuals and their privacy rights!  But you should remember that Facebook was never intended to be a “private” medium.. it was supposed to be a digital place to meet people and connect with others – you can’t do that if its only “closed” groups or private!

In an attempt to get round the data protection/privacy rules, Facebook originally set up its storage facility in the Republic of Ireland – ie in the EU.  But the “rules” state that, as a US company, they must abide by EU law in an EU country.  So when they kept getting huge fines, they moved everything to California.

California is one of the few US States to have a form of data protection legislation, but federally, the US does NOT have data protection legislation to protect the rights of individuals.  This is why the “EU/US Privacy Shield” was put in place – an agreement with the US Department of Commerce to protect our rights when dealing with US based companies.  This agreement was designated “illegal” and not-fit-for-purpose by the European courts in 2020. BUT if the US entity was not governed by the US Department of Commerce  – and many are not! – then it didn’t apply anyway!   This meant that the US organisation have to have an Agreement in place with the country concerned using the “Standard Contractual Clauses” drawn up by the EU authorities.  This is still the case and there are new Clauses just issued.

All this still applies to the UK after Brexit because our data protection rules have not changed in concept from the EU rules.  In fact they have drawn up an “Adequacy Decision” between UK and EU countries because we have the same level of protection on individuals’ rights and freedoms. 

What’s next?   – well, its simple!  Facebook/Meta just need to obey the rules!  They can draw up new agreements with European companies they market to (for adverts etc which is how they make their money) using the new Clauses. They need to think about data storage and the individual’s right to delete data. 

And perhaps they should think about employing me??!

The important thing to remember that you don’t need to panic, as an Insider I will always ensure you are up to date on the law and any changes that you may need to make. Not sure if you’ve got it right? I’m happy to have a chat either on the confidential mastermind group or via my website.

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