October 3, 2022
Meta fined EUR 17 million for data breach by Irish watchdog

Ireland on Tuesday fined Facebook’s parent company Meta for violating EU data privacy laws in the latest action in Europe against the business practices of US tech titans.

The social media giant, which owns WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook, has been fined a total of 17 million euros (about Rs 142 crore) after investigating 12 data breaches, the Data Protection Commission (DPC) said.

EU member Ireland, which hosts the regional headquarters of several major tech firms including Apple, Google and Twitter, has played a role in controlling the bloc’s strict General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The Irish data watchdog said META “failed to implement appropriate technical and organizational measures” in the context of the 12 personal data breaches.

The data breach was received by the DPC for a period of six months between June 7, 2018 and December 4, 2018.

“This fine is about record-keeping practices from 2018 that we have updated, not a failure to protect people’s information,” a Meta spokesperson told AFP.

“We take our obligations under the GDPR seriously, and will consider this decision carefully as our processes evolve.”

Two European supervisory officials acting as part of the GDPR’s decision-making process objected to the initial DPC decision, but “consensus was obtained through further participation between the DPC and supervisory authorities,” the Irish Commission said. .

In September last year, Ireland fined WhatsApp with a record 225 million euros (about Rs 1,885 crore) after pressure from other European regulators to increase the initial penalty.

In a draft finding submitted to other European regulators for approval, the DPC proposed a fine of between 30 and 50 million euros (about Rs 251 crore and Rs 418 crore), but this figure was rejected by several national regulators, thereby starting the dispute resolution process.

The GDPR, which went into effect in 2018, has been seen as a powerful weapon for EU members to curb the excesses of big tech companies, giving cross-border powers to national watchdogs and to prevent data misuse. Large scale fines are likely to be imposed.

US big tech companies have faced scrutiny and heavy fines in Europe, as well as plans for EU-wide legislation to rein in them.

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