Ireland on Tuesday fined Facebook’s parent company Meta for violating EU data privacy laws in its latest move 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) following an investigation into 12 data breaches, the Data Protection Commission (DPC) said.
EU member Ireland, which hosts the regional headquarters of several leading technology companies, including Apple, Google and Twitter, has been instrumental in policing the bloc’s strict general data protection regulations (GDPR).
The Irish Data Watchdog said Metas had “failed to take appropriate technical and organizational measures” in the wake of 12 personal data breaches.
Notices of data breach were received by DPC within six months between June 7, 2018 and December 4, 2018, it said.
“This fine is not a failure to protect human information that we have updated on the practice of keeping records from 2018,” a Meta spokesman told AFP.
“We take our obligations under the GDPR seriously, and will carefully consider this decision as our processes continue to evolve.”
The two European oversight bodies, which are part of the GDPR’s decision-making process, objected to the initial DPC decision, but “consensus was reached through further engagement between the DPC and the oversight body,” the Irish Commission said.
In September last year, Ireland hit WhatsApp with a record 225 million euros (about Rs 1,885 crore) after pressure from other European regulators to increase the initial fine.
In a draft audit submitted to other European regulators for approval, the DPC proposed a fine of 30 to 50 million euros (approximately Rs 251 crore and Rs 418 crore), but several national regulators rejected the figure, initiating a dispute resolution process.
The GDPR, which came into force in 2018, has been seen as a powerful weapon for EU members to curb the excesses of large technology companies, give national watchdogs cross-border powers and impose huge fines for data misuse.
U.S. big tech companies have faced investigations and huge fines in Europe, as well as plans for EU-wide legislation to curb them.