According to Facebook, the company may have to shut down its Facebook and Instagram services in Europe if it is not allowed to transmit data from its European users to its servers in the U.S., the Vice news site says.

Facebook's position is clear from a written affidavit from the company's Irish Director of Information Security, Yvonne Cunnanen, to the Irish Data Protection Ombudsman.

- .... it is not clear to the Applicant (i.e. Facebook) how it will be able to continue to provide Facebook and Instagram services in the EU, Cunnane writes.

According to him, Facebook alone has about 410 million active users in Europe.

- The consequences would be significant and far-reaching, both for the Applicant (i.e. Facebook) and for the millions of individuals and companies using its services in Europe.

Cunnane recalls that its users also include charities and politicians.

According to him, Facebook, along with other similar services, is also an important channel of freedom of speech and communication.

According to a statement by a Facebook representative to the Vice magazine, the statement is not a threat to end the service in Europe, but highlights how essential the transfer of information to the United States is for the service to operate.

U.S. espionage broke the data agreement

The company’s response is a follow-up to a years-long litigation that began with the revelations of Edward Snowden, a CIA subcontractor, at the beginning of the decade.

According to data leaked by Snowden, U.S. intelligence is capable of extensively spying on data from U.S. online service users.

Austrian privacy activist Maximilian Schrems claimed, according to the revelations, that Facebook, among other things, was in breach of EU-US data transfer agreements.

Schrems has also sued U.S. companies for violating gdpr privacy laws.

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The European Court of Justice has ruled in favor of Schrems at various stages of the proceedings.

Most recently, in July, an EU court annulled the EU-US Privacy Shield data agreement due to US espionage.

The decision affects about 5,000 U.S. companies.

  • Read more: US espionage broke data agreement - now tightens corporate surveillance in Europe

With Facebook’s European headquarters in Ireland, it was the job of the Irish Data Protection Supervisor to urge Facebook to stop transmitting data from European users to the United States.

Facebook has responded to the order with a counterclaim seeking to prevent the decision from taking effect.

The company also accuses the Irish Data Protection Commissioner of being biased and unfair.