Irish Data Regulator Slaps Meta with Massive Fine

Photo credit: Reuters

After it has established that Facebook and Instagram violated EU privacy law, the Irish data regulator fined their parent firm Meta $416 million on Wednesday, bringing the total penalties Dublin handed to Meta in just over a year to more than $1.3 billion.

The fine was imposed for tracking Facebook and Instagram users’ online activity for advertising purposes.

The Dublin-based Data Protection Commission (DPC) announced in the statement on its website that it has concluded the two inquiries into Meta Platforms Ireland Limited’s data processing operations in connection with the delivery of its Facebook and Instagram services.

Around $222.5 million of the fine is related to breaches relating to Facebook and another $191 million for Instagram-related breaches since both services have reportedly gathered information on users’ browsing history to target them with personalized ads, as the DPC explained.

Meta changed its terms of service in 2018 – right after the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force- effectively forcing both Facebook and Instagram to consent to their data being harvested, which the DPC found violated the GDPR.

Meta plans to appeal the rulings and the fines but it also faces a separate investigation involving the WhatsApp messaging service, which is still underway.

Since October 2021, the DPC has fined Meta a total of $1.36 billion – in November, the tech giant was fined $275 million for a Facebook data breach that affected over half a billion users.

In September, Meta was forced to pay out $420 million for how it handled teens’ Instagram data, in March the fine was $17 million for record-keeping problems while in October 2021, Meta was fined around $233 million for various violations.

The latest DPC ruling could damage Meta’s EU profits, because, according to Austrian lawyer Max Schrems who sued Meta in 2018, people now must consent for their data to be used for ads and can also withdraw their consent at any time.

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