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US, EU Break Deadlock on Data Transfer Pact

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Meta Platforms Inc and many tech firms have received a lifeline after US and European Union officials struck a major deal on transatlantic data transfer rights, Bloomberg reported on Friday.

Both sides of the Atlantic stated they would agree in principle to proceed with the data transfer pact, the report said, following previous deadlocks over concerns US firms could violate data privacy rights.

According to a tweet from Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President, the new agreement would “enable predictable and trustworthy [EU-US] data flows, balancing security, the right to privacy and data protection.”

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan noted in a statement on Air Force One ahead of the Brussels meeting, as quoted by Bloomberg, that the breakthrough agreement would boost the “foundation of a $7.1 trillion USD economic relationship between the US and the EU.”

He added the accord would allow US technology firms protection to “fully and safely operate within the context of the US-EU economic transatlantic economic relationship.”

The meeting saw US President Joe Biden meet his European counterparts in the European Union capital for a series of talks with members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the Group of Seven, and many others, amid a series of tense negotiations and measures on the crisis in Ukraine.

The news comes after Meta threatened to leave the EU due to previous disagreements over terms and conditions of data transfers from Brussels to Washington, namely after the European Union Court of Justice ruled against a previous Privacy Shield transfer agreement, citing data privacy fears.

Previous rulings had forced thousands of US and EU tech firms to seek contingency plans amid strengthening measures sparked by the latter’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

Developments on Meta’s European Expansion

The news comes after Meta Platforms launched several key initiatives to protect users of its future Metaverse platforms and Nick Clegg, Meta’s President of Global Affairs, vowed in November to safeguard online citizens of the upcoming spatial communications system.

The company’s longstanding ambitions to expand across Europe were revealed after it announced it would hire 10,000 EU employees in October, just ahead of its rebranding at the Facebook Connect 2021 event.

It also selected Spain as its EU base of operations this week for expanding and developing its Metaverse ambitions, as well as recruit workforces capable of building the tech firm’s massive collection of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality (VR/AR/MR) solutions.

Meta has also pledged $50 million USD in September to ethically and responsibly develop the Metaverse to offer reassurances on its best practices policies.

The news comes after a former Facebook employee accused the firm of failing to protect online users after the death of a young woman allegedly exposed to harmful content on its social media platforms.

British lawmakers have also introduced a bill to Parliament to penalise tech firms, accused of similar activities, with jail time and huge sanctions of up to 10 percent of annual earnings, citing the incident.

Mark Zuckerberg, Meta Founder and Chief Executive, repeatedly slammed the accusations as false and vowed to step up efforts to tackle harmful online activity with a new Research SuperCluster.

 

 

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