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Meta fined $400 million for failing to protect childrens data on Instagram

Meta fined $400 million for failing to protect childrens data on Instagram

September 6, 2022

Meta has been fined nearly $400 million for breaching European Union data protection laws over its handling of children's data on Instagram, the latest in a series of moves by authorities in Europe and the United States to crack down on information collected and shared with companies. About young people online.

Ireland's Data Protection Commission said it decided on September 2 to impose what could be one of the largest fines to date under the General Data Protection Regulation, or the General Data Protection Regulation, the four-year-old European data protection law that has been criticized for being weak. . be implemented.

Policy makers are trying to better protect children's data generated on social media, online video games, and other Internet services. California lawmakers last week passed a law requiring several online services to increase protections for children. Britain passed a similar law last year.

European laws grant special protection to children's data. In 2020, the Irish Data Protection Commission began investigating Instagram for creating accounts for children aged 13-17 by default and for allowing teens with Instagram business accounts, many of whom are aspiring influencers, to publish their email addresses and phone numbers.

Graham Doyle, a spokesman for the Irish Data Protection Commission, confirmed Instagram had been fined 405 million euros, or about $402 million, and said more details about the decision would be released next week. Politician first reported the fine.

Meta said they disagreed with the decision and planned to appeal, which could be a lengthy legal process. The company said the inquiry focused on older settings that were updated over a year ago, and that it has since added more features to improve security for younger users.

"Anyone under 18 is automatically set to private when they sign up for Instagram, so only people they know can see what they post, and adults can't message teens they don't follow," the company said in an email. .

The fine far exceeds any other fine so far by Ireland v Meta, reflecting the broader efforts by regulators to tackle the potentially harmful impact of social media and the internet on young people.

European policymakers this year adopted additional rules regarding children. A new law called the Digital Services Act prohibits companies from using certain data to personalize ads targeting people under the age of 18.

Instagram is under special scrutiny in Europe and the United States for its policies regarding children, including how its recommendation algorithm affects body image and self-esteem. President Biden has called for stronger protections for children on social media.

Ireland is at the center of a series of battles over its Meta data collection practices. Since Meta uses Ireland as its headquarters in Europe, the country has been tasked with overseeing the company's compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation, a sweeping law passed in 2018 to restrict how companies collect and share people's data.

Irish regulators have been criticized for not being more aggressive in enforcing data protection laws, leading some privacy groups to say the policy did not live up to their lofty expectations.

Irish officials said the cases were taking time. Last year, regulators fined Meta €225 million for violations related to the WhatsApp messaging service. In March, authorities fined the company €17 million for the data breach.

In a separate case, the country threatened to force Meta to stop transferring data from European users to the company's data centers in the United States. This dispute stems from a court ruling that said data from Facebook and Instagram users in Europe is not protected by US surveillance agencies that have legal access to information about international users.


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