Meta Faces Heavy Fine For Data Violation
- Irish regulators have fined Meta more than $900 million since 2021.
- Ireland’s Data Protection Commission fined Meta $400 million for mishandling children’s data.
- A Meta spokesperson said the company was reviewing the recent sanction.
Facebook’s parent company, Meta, has suffered another brush with European authorities and has been fined roughly $275 million for breaching European data protection law. The tech giant was said to have mishandled user data, which led to a leak of the personal information of over half a billion users.
The fine, announced by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC), raises the regulator’s total fines against Meta since last year to more than $900 million. The Irish regulator fined the social media giant $400 million in September for mishandling children’s data.
The DPC admitted that the decision contains findings of violations of Articles 25(1) and 25(2) GDPR, which are concerned with data protection by design and practice. Privacy advocacy groups that want European Union officials to implement the General Data Protection Regulation more vigorously will see the fines against Meta as a huge improvement. The law, which was implemented in 2018, was lauded as a turning point in the regulation of technology businesses. However, EU regulators have come under fire for not strictly enforcing the guidelines.
Ireland plays a critical role in enforcing E.U. data privacy laws. Top tech companies such as Google and Meta all have their European headquarters in Ireland. The latest fine against Meta comes from an investigation carried out by Irish regulators in 2021 based on allegations that Facebook had not protected its platform from being “scraped” for data, which allowed user information, including names, addresses, and dates of birth, to be published on an online hacker forum. Irish regulators claimed the incident was a violation of laws requiring the protection of users’ personal data.
Meta announced that it had addressed its policies to prevent similar situations, noting that “unauthorized data scraping is unacceptable and against our rules.” It remains unknown if the social media giant will appeal the fine. However, a spokesperson for the firm said it was reviewing the decision.
Meta said in a statement,
Protecting the privacy and security of people’s data is fundamental to how our business works. That’s why we have cooperated fully with the Irish Data Protection Commission on this important issue. We made changes to our systems during the time in question, including removing the ability to scrape our features in this way using phone numbers.
Meta said it has implemented a number of safeguards to stop data scraping, including rate limitations, technical tools to stop suspicious automated actions, and settings for users to choose how much of their data is visible to the public.
Regulators in Europe are paying closer attention to tech companies as user privacy becomes a global conversation. Other tech firms, such as Amazon, have also been scrutinized by regulators for some of their practices. Last year, Amazon was handed an almost 750 million euro fine by regulators in Luxembourg for its online advertising practices.