Facebook fined €1.2 million for breaking privacy laws

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  • Spain’s data protection watchdog has fined Facebook €1.2 million euros after it found three instances when it collected personal data on its Spanish users without telling them how it was going to be used.

    Spain’s AEPD said an investigation into how Facebook collects, stores and uses data for advertising purposes found it is doing so without obtaining adequate user consent.

    This instance is the latest in a series of legal issues with Facebook. According to Mark Scott, Politico’s Chief Politics correspondent, the Dutch, French and German governments are also looking into how Facebook holds and uses data about their citizens.

    Spain’s AEPD says it identified two serious infringements and one very series infringement of the data protection law, with a €300,000 fine for the former two and a €600,000 for the latter.

    The Spanish data protection authority said that Facebook’s privacy policy contains “generic and unclear terms”.

    “The social network uses specifically protected data for advertising, among other purposes, without obtaining users’ express consent as data protection law demands, [this is] a serious infringement.”

    Using cookies, Facebook also collects data from people who do not have an account but navigate other pages containing a ‘like' button, AEPD said.

    Facebook users’ activity can also be tracked on third-party sites, and the information collected added to what is already associated with a Facebook account, AEPD said.

    “This situation also occurs when users are not members of the social network but have ever visited one of its pages, as well as when users who are registered on Facebook browse through third part pages, even without logging on to Facebook. In these cases, the platform adds the information collected in said pages to the one associated with your account in the social network. Therefore the AEPD considers that the information provided by Facebook to users does not comply with data protection regulations”, it notes.

    It is likely that Facebook will appeal this rule, having previously overturned a similar judgment in Belgium.

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