Meta was fined €265 million by Irish regulators on Monday. This is the company’s latest penalty for violating rigorous European Union data privacy regulations.
According to the Data Protection Commission (DPC), Meta Platforms Inc. violated parts of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which require technological and organizational measures to secure user data.
The authority began looking into press reports that user data for more than 533 million people was discovered to have been leaked online last year. This information was detected on a website for hackers, and includes names, Facebook IDs, phone numbers, residences, birthdates and email addresses of individuals from more than 100 different countries.
The DPC investigation discovered that Meta’s Facebook Search, Facebook Messenger Contact Importer and Instagram Contact Importer capabilities did not adhere to GDPR rules between May 25, 2018 and September 19, 2019.
According to Meta, the information was “scraped” from Facebook using programs intended to let users identify friends by phone numbers when using search and contact import functions.
“There was a comprehensive inquiry process, including cooperation with all of the other data protection supervisory authorities within the EU. The decision imposed a reprimand and an order requiring [Meta Platforms Ireland Ltd.] to bring its processing into compliance by taking a range of specified remedial actions within a particular time frame. In addition, the decision has imposed administrative fines totaling €265 million,” said Irish Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon.
Back in March 2022, Meta was fined €17 million for its handling of a dozen data breach alerts. Later, in September, the Irish Data Protection Commission fined Meta-owned Instagram €405 million after discovering that the company mismanaged the personal information of adolescents. Moreover, the commission penalized Meta’s messaging service WhatsApp €225 million back in 2021 for breaking laws regarding the sharing of people’s data with other Meta companies.