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Ireland Fines Meta-Owned Instagram €405 Million

Regulators in Ireland have fined Instagram €405 million for violating children’s privacy.

A lengthy lawsuit involved children’s data, especially their phone numbers and email addresses. Some users allegedly upgraded the service to a business account to take advantage of analytics tools such as profile access, but were unaware that this action exposed their data.

Meta, the owner of Instagram, said it intends to appeal the decision. This is the third time the regulator has fined the company.

“We adopted our final decision last Friday, and it does contain a fine of €405 million,” said Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner (DPC). 

Meta Does Not Agree

In an interview with BBC News, a Meta exec said, “This inquiry focused on old settings that we updated over a year ago, and we’ve since released many new features to help keep teens safe and their information private.” 

Meta officials went on to explain the updated version of the app, ultimately saying they disagreed with the decision.

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“Anyone under 18 automatically has their account set to private when they join Instagram, so only people they know can see what they post, and adults can’t message teens who don’t follow them,” said the exec. 

“While we’ve engaged fully with the DPC throughout their inquiry, we disagree with how this fine was calculated and intent to appeal it… We’re continuing to carefully review the rest of the decision.” 

Agencies Nod on the Fine

DPC deals with the regulation of large technology companies with European headquarters in the Republic of Ireland. The tech industry has never seen such huge fines for violating the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation in the past. 

However, last year, it imposed a €225 million fine to WhatsApp and the data authority in Luxembourg fined Amazon €746 million.

Andy Burrows, the head of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) child-safety-online policy, added his sentiment on the matter. 

“This was a major breach that had significant safeguarding implications and the potential to cause real harm to children using Instagram,” he said. “The ruling demonstrates how effective enforcement can protect children on social media and underlines how regulation is already making children safer online.”

Burrows said, “It’s now over to the new prime minister to keep the promise to give children the strongest possible protections by delivering the Online Safety Bill in full and without delay.”

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