In September of this year, WhatsApp was ordered to pay a horrendous fine. The reason for this was the violation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). But the globally successful messenger service does not want to accept this. Now Facebook’s subsidiary has announced legal action against the decision of Ireland’s data protection authority and has already taken action. The lawsuit had already been filed.
Saft fine of 225 million euros
In view of the gigantic fine of 225 million euros, one can certainly understand why WhatsApp is not well disposed towards Irish politics. Since out-of-court steps are obviously no longer the key to success, the messenger now wants to take legal action against the fine. No less than the European Court of Justice (ECJ) is now to decide on the legality of the penalty payment. But how is it that Ireland’s authority, of all places, can issue corresponding penalties for a breach of the GDPR?
For years, the country in northern Europe has been considered a real tax haven for US companies that want to make big money in Europe. Internet companies from the legendary Silicon Valley in particular like to settle in Ireland, not least because of the rather lax tax policy. The same applies to Facebook and thus also to the associated Messenger. But as a member of the European Union (EU), it is also up to Ireland to enforce Europe-wide regulations – including the GDPR, which has been in force for several years.
The Irish supervisory authority did not reach its verdict by chance, of course. Facebook has been criticized for several years for displaying a rather “loose” approach to the issue of data protection. Nothing different is the case with WhatsApp. In particular, the transparency in the further processing and also provision of user data is simply opaque. Facebook in general and WhatsApp in particular must rethink this. Furthermore, the Irish data protection authority stated that WhatsApp urgently needs to revise its data processing. Among other things, the authority will be referring to the fact that data of European users is stored and processed on servers located in the USA. WhatsApp itself feels that the fine is disproportionately high. In the Irish story, this is actually surprisingly high. After all, Ireland’s data protection authority has not imposed a higher fine during its existence.