Meta Fined 265m Euros Over Data Leak

Ireland’s data protection office on Monday fined Facebook parent Meta some 265 million euros (£228m) for failing to secure the data of hundreds of millions of users from being published online.

The fine follows a fine of 405m euros the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) levied in September for Meta’s handling of young users’ privacy settings on Instagram and means Meta has been fined nearly 1bn euros by EU regulatory bodies in the past 18 months.

The fine follows a DPC probe that began in April 2021 into the publication of data on 533 million Facebook users from 106 countries, which appeared on a hacking forum last year.

Data leak

The data included names, phone numbers, email addresses, locations and other personal data.

A vulnerability in a tool designed to allow users to import contacts from their phones onto the Facebook or Instagram app had allowed third parties to obtain the data through a process called scraping, Meta said at the time.

The data included information on sitting judges, prison officers, social workers, journalists and others, the DPC said.

Meta initially downplayed the breach, saying it involved “old” data from 2019 and that it had fixed the scraping issue in August of that year.

GDPR breach

But the DPC said Meta had failed to comply with GDPR obligations of “data protection by design and default.”

It said other data protection authorities in the EU “agreed with the decision of the DPC”.

The Irish regulator often takes the lead on probes into Meta because the company’s European headquarters is in Dublin.

Meta said it would review the DPC’s decision and has not yet decided whether to appeal.

“Unauthorised data scraping is unacceptable and against our rules,” the company added.

Revenue decline

Last year the DPC fined Meta’s WhatsApp 225m euros for failing to provide details of how it shares EU users’ data with its parent company. The DPC fined Meta 17m euros for 12 separate data breaches in addition to the 405m euro Instagram fine.

At the beginning of this month Meta laid off more than 11,000 staff amidst a staff restructure following a decline in revenues and stiff competition from the likes of TikTok.

Meta’s net income fell to $6.69bn (£5.5bn) for the April-June period, down 36 percent from $10.39bn for the same period a year earlier, its first-ever revenue decline.

The decline for the third quarter was even more marked, with net income for the three months to 30 September coming to $4.3bn, down 52 percent from $9.1bn a year earlier.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

Recent Posts

Apple Briefly Overtakes Microsoft For Market Crown On AI Plans

Apple AI announcements triggers three-day rally that sees market value briefly overtake Microsoft for most…

12 hours ago

Musk’s X Lawsuit Against Nazi Report Author Slated For 2025 Trial

Trial set for April 2025 against Media Matters, after its report prompted an advertising exodus…

1 day ago

Elon Musk Wins Shareholder Vote On Pay, Texas Incorporation

Shareholders at Tesla vote to reinstate Elon Musk's 'ridiculous' $56bn pay package, and approve incorporation…

1 day ago

X (Twitter) Now Hides Posts Liked By Users

Elon Musk’s X platform (formerly Twitter) has this week begun hiding user likes, amid reports…

2 days ago