Apple unveils $2B plans for Irish and Danish data centers

Apple is set to spend €1.7 billion ($1.93 billion) on two new European data centers, one in Ireland and one in Denmark.

The Galway and Jutland data centers will each measure 166,000 square meters and will, in line with Apple’s other data facilities, be powered entirely by clean, renewable energy. They are expected to go online in 2017, handling data for iTunes, the App Store, iMessage, Maps and Siri.

“We’re excited to spur green industry growth in Ireland and Denmark and develop energy systems that take advantage of their strong wind resources,” [company]Apple[/company] Environmental Initiatives vice-president Lisa Jackson said in a statement. Apple CEO Tim Cook described the initiative as “Apple’s biggest project in Europe to date.”

The company said it will embark on a native tree-planting exercise to accompany the construction of its Irish data center, which will occupy land that was previously used for non-native trees. Meanwhile, excess heat from the Danish facility will be siphoned off to warm neighboring homes.

Apart from green credentials and the hundreds of jobs that will accompany the construction and operation of the new data centers, the sites will of course also help Apple keep Europeans’ data in Europe. With widespread concerns over the privacy implications of using U.S. services, particularly in the enterprise sector that Apple is so keenly courting, this is no minor factor.

If Apple ever launches a Spotify competitor, the new facilities will also prove helpful in supporting all that streaming.

The development of Apple’s new European data centers had been rumored for some time, with Eemshaven in the Netherlands (the site of a major new Google facility) also having been touted as a potential location.

Apple could be liable for billions of euros in fines, as EU reportedly prepares tax accusations

Back in June, the European Commission started sniffing around Apple’s tax arrangements in Ireland, to see whether the Irish government’s acceptance of the firm’s elaborate tax avoidance tricks amounted to unlawful state aid. According to a Sunday Financial Times report, the Commission now has its preliminary findings and will this week formally accuse Apple of benefiting from illicit state aid over the course of two decades. The iPhone maker reportedly pays less than two percent tax in Ireland, where its international operations are headquartered. If Apple is shown to have received special treatment that’s denied to other companies, the firm could be liable for billions of euros in fines. Apple denies the allegations.

European privacy regulators examine Facebook emotion manipulation study

Facebook(s fb)’s emotional manipulation study has shocked many people for its apparent breach of research ethics (700,000 subjects had no idea they were being manipulated), and it has raised the alarm among Europe’s privacy regulators too. As The Register first reported on Tuesday (and I confirmed on Wednesday morning), the UK Information Commissioner intends to speak with Facebook about it, and will also be liaising with his Irish counterpart, who has jurisdiction over Facebook’s activities across Europe. The Irish Data Protection Commissioner said he is awaiting a “comprehensive report” from the social network over privacy issues relating to the study, including consent.

Facebook PRISM case heads to Europe’s highest court

An Irish judge has asked the Court of Justice of the European Union to say whether it was OK for the country’s data protection watchdog to refuse to investigate the alleged breakdown — as evidenced by the Snowden revelations — of the U.S.-EU “Safe Harbor” principles.

Google developing new travel price comparison service, according to Ryanair boss

Google(s goog) is working on a major upgrade for its Flight Search service — in Europe at least — judging by a Sunday interview with Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary in the Irish Independent. According to O’Leary, Google is developing a price-comparison service that will “blow comparison sites like Skyscanner out of the water” when it goes live in late March. Google Flight Search has been around since the firm bought ITA in 2011, but has failed to make much of a dent. It launched in Europe last March, but with limited functionality and missing major low-cost airlines such as Ryanair. Google said a few months ago that it was content with the overall product, but maybe it’s not — or maybe this is just catch-up time for Europe.

Adobe investigated in Ireland over massive data breach

The Irish Data Protection Commissioner, who regulates online privacy for most of the world, is looking into Adobe’s mega-breach last year, in which the details of at least 38 million people were purloined by criminals.

Twitter moves to make more money outside the U.S.

Twitter(s twtr)’s post-IPO path to prosperity presses on: the company has opened up its self-serve advertising platform to companies outside the U.S. Small-to-medium-sized businesses in the UK, Ireland and Canada get first (well, second) shot at the platform, and others will presumably follow. The move lets those without a deep working relationship with Twitter to pay to promote their accounts and tweets in a targeted fashion – so expect a lot more of those in your timeline soon, if you’re in one of the aforementioned countries.