Facebook hit with a heavy fine in Italy over data concerns

Facebook hit with a heavy fine in Italy over data concerns

Facebook was hit Wednesday with a 7 million euro fine ($8.5 million) by Italy’s competition watchdog after the social media titan failed to comply with an earlier request to change commercial usage of private data.

The previous request was made in November 2018 after Italy’s anti-trust agency ruled that Facebook had failed to inform users adequately about how it collected and used data from its userbase.

At the time, the social media company was fined 5 million euros ($5.5 million) and required to publish an amended statement on the Italian Facebook homepage and on the personal page of each Italian user.

“The current investigation has proved that … [the company has] not published the amended statement and has not stopped the established unfair practice,” the regulator said in a statement.

The regulatory body said that based on the potential economic value of the data, users should be put in the position to decide on when and if this data is used.

In a statement responding to this latest ruling, a Facebook spokesperson said that while the company had noted this latest regulatory decision, the social media giant would “await the Council of State decision on our appeal against the Authority’s initial findings.”

The spokesperson added that the company had already made changes to the extent of clarifying its terms of service on how data is used by advertisers. This latest regulatory strike against Facebook comes as international calls are increasing about the privacy of user data by all Social Media, with Facebook particularly in the hotseat.

The company is racing to make internal changes, but it remains to be seen if this will prevent further fines and increased regulatory control of Facebook, by several countries.