Two Irish-based subsidiaries of Facebook's parent company Meta have brought High Court challenges against a decision by the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) to fine the companies over €395 million.
The first of the challenges has been brought by Meta Platforms Ireland Ltd after it was fined following the conclusion of two probes by the DPC into the operation of Meta's delivery of its Facebook and Instagram services.
Those fines, totalling €390 million, were imposed for breaches by Facebook of GDPR, the EU regulation which governs the way in which information and personal data about an individual can be used, processed, and stored, and over the operation of Instagram services.
Meta was given three months in which to bring its data processing operations into compliance.
In a second set of proceedings, WhatsApp Ireland Ltd, whose ultimate parent company is also Meta, has challenged the DPC decision of January 12th to fine it €5.5 million for breaches of GDPR.
Represented by Declan McGrath SC, Meta Platforms Ireland seeks various orders from the High Court, including one quashing the DPC's decision.
In its action, Meta seeks various declarations from the court, including that the various sections of the Irish laws concerning data protection are invalid and unconstitutional.
It further seeks declarations that certain sections of the GDPR is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights and EU Charter.
Meta claims that when arriving at its decisions against it, the DPC erred in law and allegedly acted outside of its powers. It claims the DPC had regard to information which was irrelevant when it arrived at its decisions against Meta.
It claims the DPC gave too much consideration to instructions made by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB), which it is claimed unlawfully instructed its Irish counterpart to increase the fines imposed on Meta.
It is also claimed that the DPC acted outside of its powers by expanding its investigation beyond the scope of the complaints and had regard for material other than what it had gathered in the inquiry process.
The decision was made in breach of the requirements of fair procedures, due process, and the right to a defence, it is claimed.
There was a failure to provide Meta with adequate reasons for the decision, it is submitted.
The proceedings are against both the DPC, Ireland and the Attorney General.
In his submissions to the court, Mr McGrath said similar cases have been brought by his clients against the DPC before the Irish and European Courts. These proceedings may take some time to be determined and finalised, counsel said.
In both applications, NOYB — European Centre for Digital Rights, which made the complaints with the DPC that resulted in the fines being imposed, have been added as a notice party.
Brian Kennedy SC, for WhatsApp, said his client's challenge has been brought on similar grounds to Meta's.
The applications came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan on Monday. The judge after considering submissions from Mr Kennedy and Mr McGrath granted the companies permission, on an ex-parte basis to bring their challenges.
The matter will come back before the court in June.
Written by High Court reporters
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