Facebook's $1.3 Billion Fine is One of the Largest Levied by EU Against Big Tech

Anti-Facebook Demonstration at EC Headquarters, 2018

Thierry Monasse / Contributor / Getty Images

In the latest attempt to rein in big tech, the European Union (EU) levied the third-largest fine ever against a U.S. tech company Monday when it charged Meta Platforms (META) $1.3 billion.

Since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was implemented in the spring of 2018, the EU has aggressively gone after big tech companies the block sees as anti-competitive or undermining user data privacy. The Facebook parent violated data privacy rules by transferring European users’ data to the United States, according to the bloc.

The fine trailed only two levied against Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL) in 2018 and 2017, respectively. It is the largest fine so far this year.

Here's how Monday's events stack up against the EU’s five biggest antitrust fines against big tech companies in recent years:

Google, 2018: $5.1 Billion

In July 2018, the EU fined Google $5.1 billion for anti-competitive practices in promoting its Android search engine, which had more than 90% of the global market share and is used in roughly 80% of the world’s smartphones.

"Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine," said antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager at the time.

In September of last year, the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice (ECJ) upheld the ruling, siding with EU regulators and confirming that Google imposed unlawful restrictions on manufacturers of Android devices. The court reduced the fine to $4.13 billion after the tech giant struck revenue-sharing agreements with phone manufacturers and network operators.

Google, 2017: $2.7 Billion

Google had faced a similar ruling the year before, when EU regulators alleged Google unfairly leveraged its dominant position as a search engine to promote its comparison shopping services. The regulator fined Google 2.42 billion euros, or the equivalent of $2.7 billion.

Meta Platforms, 2023: $1.3 Billion

On Monday, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) fined Facebook parent Meta Platforms 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) for violating the bloc’s data privacy rules.

Regulators from Ireland’s Data Protection Commission ordered Facebook to stop transferring European users’ data to the United States, where it could be subject to exploitation by U.S. spy agencies.

The regulator alleged Facebook failed to comply with a 2020 ruling in which the EU struck down a transatlantic data pact that had been in place since 2016, on grounds of protecting user data privacy.

Amazon, 2021: $888 Million

In July 2021, an EU court in Luxembourg fined Amazon (AMZN) 746 million euros ($888 million) for allegedly processing personal data in violation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The company denied wrongdoing, but committed to changes in its business practices the following year, including refraining from using non-public marketplace seller data and ensuring equal access to its Prime and Buy Box services.

Meta Platforms, 2022: $400 Million

Last year, the European Data Protection Board fined Instagram, which is owned by Meta Platforms, roughly $400 million for allegedly violating European data privacy laws regarding the handling of children’s data. It was the biggest fine issued by the EDPB at the time and came amid calls to more stringently protect minors’ online privacy.

Article Sources
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  1. European Data Protection Board. "1.2 billion euro fine for Facebook as a result of EDPB binding decision."

  2. The New York Times. "E.U. Fines Google $5.1 Billion in Android Antitrust Case."

  3. European Commission. "Antitrust: Commission fines Google €4.34 billion for illegal practices regarding Android mobile devices to strengthen dominance of Google's search engine."

  4. Court of Justice of the European Union. "Press Release No. 147/22 (September 14, 2022)."

  5. European Commission. "Antitrust: Commission fines Google €2.42 billion for abusing dominance as search engine by giving illegal advantage to own comparison shopping service."

  6. European Data Protection Board. "1.2 billion euro fine for Facebook as a result of EDPB binding decision."

  7. The New York Times. "EU Court Strikes Down Trans-Atlantic Data Transfer Pact."

  8. AP News. "EU regulators fine Amazon $886 million."

  9. European Commission. "Antitrust: Commission Accepts Commitments by Amazon Barring It From Using Marketplace Seller Data."

  10. European Data Protection Board. "Record fine for Instagram following EDPB intervention."

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