Facebook escaped the big ban – again. After all the drama, Facebook is unlikely to see a transatlantic data ban. The big lockdown should show that Europe is serious about privacy. But it has effectively been overturned by other EU data protection authorities.
Earlier this year, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner made a decision to block Facebook and Instagram from transferring data from the EU to the US.
Because the European Court of Justice has decided that this is necessary due to the insufficient protection of privacy in the USA.
According to EU rules, this decision must be communicated to regulators in other countries before it is enforced. A handful of them contested part of the decision, delaying enforcement by (at least) several months.
That delay is just long enough to keep Meta and CEO Mark Zuckerberg waiting for the finalization of the latest US-EU transatlantic data deal. This will almost certainly replace the current standoff.
Big Tech wins again? Type of. To be clear, this is the EU’s data protection process, working the way privacy hawks want it to. Other Irish decisions submitted for consultation have resulted in higher fines. Where there is disagreement about punishment, it is almost always that continental European data regulators are pushing for tougher remedial action.
This recommendation process is the primary mechanism to achieve this.
So it’s really just an ironic quirk that in this case it’s the other regulators that let Meta off the hook.
“Yes, but only for now,” say some privacy industry commentators. “The new deal between the US and the EU is doomed to be crushed again by the European courts. Then the data ban is back in play.”
Yes / Yes. Just like last time, right? Forgive the cynicism here, but I’ve covered this particular topic for the last ten years. It’s a loop that goes like this: 1. Transatlantic Agreement (‘Safe Harbor’, then ‘Privacy Shield’, now the new one). 2. EU Challenge (e.g. Max Schrems). 3. Transatlantic deal failed by EU courts. 4. Data lock threatened. 5. New Transatlantic Agreement (back to first step).
We are currently in cycle number three of this loop. And there will be a fourth and a fifth that will likely span the next decade.
Why? Because neither the US nor the EU will compromise on what they consider to be inalienable, compelling positions.
The US simply will not accept that privacy rights in Europe mean it cannot monitor domestic traffic in ways it deems essential to its own national security. And the EU is unlikely to accept that the US can perform any sort of data sweeps on EU citizens using services (like Facebook) in the EU.
Measures such as strengthened regulators and appeals procedures for EU citizens in the US, which according to the new transatlantic agreement are the core differences between the old and new regimes, are really no more than band-aids to get us over the current crisis.
With what we know about the core differences between the two jurisdictions, not to mention the prospect of a Trump presidency in 2024, it’s a wild optimist who believes the new measures will really change US surveillance the way it is of an accountable standard acceptable to EU courts.
So sit back and enjoy another multi-year news cycle of complaints, cases, court crackdowns and renewed threats of data lockdowns.
Glass ceiling of the TV
Does the future of Irish TV include the major operators selling their own branded TVs?
That’s what Sky is up to. Next week it’s launching Sky Glass, a TV it’s developing to entice shoppers to remain subscribers to the service. There are three different sizes: “small” (43 inches), medium (55 inches) and large (65 inches). There are decent built-in speakers. And the screen quality is comparable to fairly high-end TVs.
There’s also no smart card or set-top box. It’s all meant to be a foolproof two-minute setup.
Sky’s strategy is also to make them cheaper by installment purchases and presumably keep you as a subscriber for another two years.
Will it strengthen Sky’s position for the 700,000 people who pay for its services monthly, even as streaming platforms take up more and more of our TV hours? Or is it an eerie throwback to the days of RTV, when a TV was something you wrapped up in a monthly bundle of bills?
In the UK, where Glass has been available for some time, reception has been mixed. Compliments have been accompanied by complaints of bugs and questions about functionality, especially since the Glass TVs don’t have storage space to record programs – they instead place them on a cloud-based playlist for 30 days and rely on the channel’s own online player, to show you the program you want.
In Ireland, that means a more limited experience with the BBC (which doesn’t have a standalone iPlayer available here), although Sky says it has an agreement on some access to iPlayer programming for Irish viewers.
However, Sky is probably right in shifting its overall offering from satellite dish TV provider to entertainment hub. Kids are now spending more time on TikTok than they are on TVs, while TV is slowly being eaten up by Netflix, Disney and Amazon, none of which require a Sky or Virgin subscription.
But TV sales are still pretty solid. By jumping into it, Sky may be taking a small future-proof step.
https://www.independent.ie/business/technology/lets-be-honest-facebook-will-never-face-an-eu-data-ban-41924151.html Let’s face it – Facebook will never face an EU data ban