More trouble for Meta as it’s hit with a fine for EU data breach

By our News Team | 2022

Latest penalty means that embattled Meta has been fined around US$1-billion by the European Union since September last year.

The last quarter of 2022 is not a good time for the world’s social media giants. Following on from the chaos at Twitter and Meta’s announcement of thousands of employee layoffs, comes news that Meta has now been fined US$275-million by the national data watchdog in Ireland.

Mark Zuckerberg’s company – owner of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp – must pay up after a breach last year resulted in the details of more than 500-million users being published online.

Data Protection

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According to the Data Protection Commission (DPC), which is responsible for regulating Meta in the European Union, Meta infringed two articles of the EU’s data protection laws when details of Facebook users from various countries were scraped from public profiles in 2018 and 2019. These details then appeared on a hacking website.

Meta must also take remedial actions

As many affected people were from the EU, the DPC then stepped in to investigate and decided to impose the fine. In addition, the DPC also imposed a reprimand and an order requiring Meta to “bring its processing into compliance by taking a range of specified remedial actions within a particular timeframe”.

The London-based Guardian newspaper is reporting that the latest punishment brings the total amount of fines imposed on Meta by the DPC to nearly $1,04-billion since late last year. 

“In September, Meta was fined €405m ($419-million) for letting teenagers set up Instagram accounts that publicly displayed their phone numbers and email addresses, while in March the watchdog fined Meta €17m ($17,6-million) for further General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR breaches), and in September last year it fined Meta’s WhatsApp €225m ($233-million) over ‘severe’ and ‘serious’ infringements of GDPR,” the newspaper said.

In a statement, Meta said: “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. Unauthorised data scraping is unacceptable and against our rules.”