DUBLIN- Ireland's data watchdog expects to consult fellow EU regulators in April on its investigation into Facebook's data transfers, moving closer to a decision that could hammer transatlantic business if it bans data flows from the EU to the United States.
Europe's highest court ruled in 2020 that an EU-U.S. data transfer agreement was invalid, citing surveillance concerns.
That promoted Ireland's Data Protection Commission (DPC) to issue a provisional order that the mechanism Facebook uses to transfer data from European Union users to the United States "cannot in practice be used."
The order was frozen following a challenge by Facebook in the Irish High Court but resumed last May when the court dismissed Facebook's claims.
Facebook has warned a stoppage could have "devastating" and "irreversible" consequences for its business, which relies on processing user data to serve targeted online ads. The DPC has said other companies could face massive disruption.
The DPC, which is the EU's lead regulator of Facebook and many other of the world's largest technology company's due to the location of their EU headquarters in Ireland, issued its revised preliminary decision on Monday, which Facebook owner Meta Platforms has 28 days to respond to.
The DPC declined to give details of its revised findings.
Under EU data protection rules, the DPC must then share the ruling with all concerned EU supervisory authorities and consider their views before issuing a final verdict.
A DPC spokesperson anticipated the revised findings would be shared with other EU regulators in April.
A spokesperson for Meta confirmed it had received the revised version.
"Suspending data transfers would be damaging not only to the millions of people, charities, and businesses in the EU who use our services, but also to thousands of other companies who rely on EU-US data transfers to provide a global service," she said.
"A long-term solution on EU-US data transfers is needed to keep people, businesses and economies connected."
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin Editing by Mark Potter) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; +353 1 500 1504; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))