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Italy’s privacy watchdog slaps Facebook with $1.1 million fine

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An Italian online privacy watchdog – (Garante per la Protezione dei Dati Personali – Guarantor for Personal Data Protection) – imposed a €1 million ($1.1M) fine on Facebook, following Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The sanction comes in the wake of January’s ruling: the privacy-protecting authority forbade Facebook from manipulating the data taken from Italian users.

The privacy watchdog assessed that 57 Italians downloaded the app “Thisisyourdigitallife” through Facebook’s login function. The application exploited the functionality to share friends’ data and was able to access data from an impressive 214.077 other users connected to the 57 that initially downloaded the app, without informing them that this was happening or asking for consent.

In March, the watchdog agency accused Facebook of having accessed the data without asking consent. On this occasion, Facebook was able to extinguish the sanctioning process by paying a reduced €52,000€ fine. However, since the breach involved a very broad and important set of data, the watchdog decided to sting the tech giant with a hefty additional €1 million fine, calculated on the basis of Facebook’s financial power.

“[…] Violations involving user consent and terms and conditions targeted a very large and important database – an instance in which a reduced payment is not allowed.”

“The sum takes into account the economic conditions of Facebook and the number of global and Italian users of the company,” wrote the watchdog agency in a press release.

Last year the Italian watchdog agency fined Facebook for €10M for lacking to be transparent over its practices. In 2017, it fined the company with a €3M penalty for sharing Whatsapp data with Facebook, something that the company said would never happen.

The next sting to Facebook could come from Ireland. The Irish DPC has several open investigations into Facebook and its related companies, covering important issues such as security breaches and data processing, among many other big tech-related probes. According to the Irish watchdog agency, the first decisions regarding the tech giant related cases could arrive in the summer.

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