The messaging service Whatsapp, which is owned by the Facebook group, has been fined 225 million euros by the Irish data protection authority. Whatsapp has not transparently explained how the company manages its users’ data and how the data is shared with other companies in the Facebook group, the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) has justified its decision. Irish data protection officials are responsible for Whatsapp because the company – like many other tech companies – has its European headquarters in Ireland, also because corporate taxes are quite low here.
Dublin’s resource-poor authority has so far been criticized for taking too long to process. In July, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) intervened and asked the DPC to increase the initially planned Whatsapp sanction. Now the DPC has imposed a record fine. There are still 28 other lawsuits pending against tech companies like Google or Apple, as the Bloomberg news agency reports.
The European General Data Protection Regulation is the basis of the fine notice. It states that companies can be punished up to four percent of the group’s annual sales – depending on the severity of the offense. Just a few weeks ago, for example, the internet company Amazon, which operates its European branch in Luxembourg, was fined 746 million euros for failing to process data in accordance with the provisions of the General Regulation on data protection.
Facebook wants to take legal action against the decision. The sanction was “completely inappropriate,” said subsidiary Whatsapp. However, this is just one of the many sources of fire the group is currently facing. In addition to the repeatedly repeated criticism that Facebook is doing too little to counter fake news and hate messages, efforts are now being made in the United States to crush the company.
The US competition and consumer protection agency FTC, for example, lost the first round in its lawsuit against Facebook, but wants to try again. Because the first trial was initiated by the Trump administration and suffered from weak arguments. New FTC boss Lina Khan now wants to improve the trial and hopes for more success. The German Federal Cartel Office is also targeting Facebook because of its dominant position in the market.
Shares of the company fell 1.8 percent in New York City.