Max Schrems versus Meta: how the tech giant got hit by a €1.2 billion fine

Ireland's regulation of Big Tech has been criticised as too soft. Has that now changed?

Listen | 20:13

Facebook owner Meta has been slapped with a record €1.2bn fine by Ireland’s data regulator for violation of European privacy laws. The case centres on the social media giant’s transfers of personal data to the US, in defiance of EU law; the data includes photographs, videos or messages and “everyday data of social interactions with family, friends, acquaintances and others” and at issue is the company’s ability to keep such data private once it crosses the Atlantic.

Privacy campaigners, notably Austrian activist Max Schrems, have argued that the company is unable to protect such personal data once it leaves the bloc. And while the fine is a new record in GDPR sanctions, Helen Dixon, who heads up Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, was not in favour of imposing any monetary fine – believing it would not have any “meaningful dissuasive effect”.

Ciara O’Brien, Irish Times tech reporter, explains the background to this long-running case; how the fine – if it is ever paid, Meta is appealing the decision – will send a message to other tech firms, why Ireland’s data regulator comes in for so much criticism and why it matters given that Ireland is the European HQ so many global tech giants.

Presented by Bernice Harrison. Produced by Declan Conlon.

Bernice Harrison

Bernice Harrison

Bernice Harrison is an Irish Times journalist and cohost of In the News podcast