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Saturday, September 23 2023

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London: In a significant development, a European privacy campaign group noyb on Tuesday filed a criminal complaint against Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC), which is Facebook’s lead regulator in the EU for data protection.

In a statement, noyb said that Irish DPC demanded it to sign a “non-disclosure agreement” or remove the non-profit group from Facebook procedure.

“In absence of such an NDA for the benefit of the DPC and Facebook, the DPC would not comply with the duty to hear the complainant anymore,” the group said in a statement.

“The DPC engaged in procedural blackmail. Only if we shut up, the DPC would ‘grant’ us our legal right to be heard. We have reported the incident to the Austrian Office for the Prosecution of Corruption. This is a regulator clearly asking for a ‘quid pro quo’ to do its job, which likely constitutes bribery in Austria,” said noyb chair, Max Schrems.

“The right to be heard was made conditional on us signing an agreement, to the benefit of the DPC and Facebook. It is nothing but an authority demanding to give up the freedom of speech in exchange for procedural rights,” he added.

The not-for-profit group said that Facebook would especially benefit from the NDA, as new documents indicate that EU regulators may find Facebook’s “GDPR bypass” illegal — possibly declaring Facebook’s use of personal data since 2018 unlawful, with major implications for Facebook’s business model in Europe.

In protest of the situation and to show that noyb has every liberty to discuss documents within the parameters of applicable law, noyb will now conduct “advent readings” from various Facebook and DPC documents.

On each Sunday in advent, noyb will publish another document, together with a video explaining the documents and an analysis why the use of these documents is fully compliant with all applicable laws.

“We very much hope that Facebook or the DPC will file legal proceedings against us, to finally clarify that freedom of speech prevails over the scare tactics of a multinational and its taxpayer-funded minion,” Schrems said.

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) was yet to react to the complaint.

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