2 min

The Irish privacy watchdog has had Facebook in its sights for over a year, and a decision looms.

A new Data Privacy Framework (DPF) designed to facilitate the safe transfer of EU citizens’ personal data to the US may come into effect too late to save Facebook from a suspension of its transatlantic data flows, Reuters reports.

Helen Dixon, Ireland’s Data Protection (DPC) is working with EU colleagues to finalise a ban on the legal precept used by Facebook to transfer European user data. The ban is to be imposed because of European worries that US intelligence agencies could access their citizens’ data as a result of US legislation such as the CLOUD Act.

In an interview given to Reuters, Dixon said the ban could be in place by mid-May, whereas the new while a new EU-US DPF that would provide an alternative basis for the transfers might not be ratified until later.

The new framework is currently under fire from EU groups such as the European Data Protection Board (EDPB), which issued a non-binding opinion saying that the proposed pact does not go far enough to protect Europeans’ privacy rights.

Moreover, two previous US-EU pacts, Safe Harbour and Privacy Shield, were struck down by the European Court of Justice (CJEU) as being “inadequate” to providing the data protections required by the EU’s GDPR law.

“Coming down to the wire”

Dixon, who has had Facebook in her sights for over a year now, was not sanguine on Facebook’s chances. when asked about the ban going into effect before the DPF. “There is certainly a chance of that. More than a chance, I would say,” said Dixon, who is lead European regulator responsible for big US tech firms such as Apple, Google and Twitter, who have their regional headquarters in Ireland.

“They could be very close in timeline or the DPC’s suspension order could come into effect in advance,” Dixon continued. “Things are coming down to the wire.”

Indeed, Dixon may be able to issue the ban as early as early as May, while the EU-US data pact may not arrive until summer. “They are still talking about July,” Dixon said.

Facebook’s suspension could create a precedent for other firms, according to Reuters.