The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) has imposed a fine of millions against the US group Meta in cooperation with the other data protection authorities in the European Union (EU). The DPC in Dublin announced that there had been an “extensive investigation process” beforehand. The Facebook parent company has its European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, as do the technology giants Google and Apple. Therefore, the local DPC is the responsible authority for data protection issues.
The DPC launched its investigation into Facebook in April 2021. In 2019, data from more than 530 million Facebook users – such as names, phone numbers and email addresses – was tapped and published on a hacker forum. The hackers used a tool to make it easier to search for new friends via contact lists.
User data not protected enough
The authority investigated whether Meta sufficiently protected the data of its users and has now found that the group has violated two articles of the European General Data Protection Regulation. In addition to the fine, the US company was obliged to take measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.
Meta commented on the DPC’s decision that data protection was “essential” for the company. The group has therefore fully cooperated and has already made “changes to our systems”.
It is the fourth time since September 2021 that the Irish authorities have imposed a large fine on Meta. At that time, the subsidiary WhatsApp should pay 225 million euros for violations of data protection rules. In March 2022, the parent company was also fined 17 million euros for data protection violations. In September, the DPC fined Instagram €405 million for gross violations of privacy rules for children and young people.
Meta has appealed both the Instagram and WhatsApp decisions. Now judges have to decide. A ruling is considered to set a precedent for future investigations into data breaches.
International tech companies like Meta are major employers in Ireland. After the network giant decided to cut thousands of jobs worldwide, hundreds of jobs are at risk there.
se/fw (afp, dpa, rtr, ap)