Regulators in Ireland have fined Instagram €405 million for breaching children’s privacy.
The prolonged legal action has concerned children’s data – specifically their phone numbers and email addresses. A few allegedly upgraded their services into business accounts for analytics tools like profile visits to be available without the awareness that this action made their data public.
Meta, Instagram’s owner, stated that it wants to appeal the decision. It marks 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).
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.”
The Meta official further explained the upgraded version of their app and ultimately said they disagree with the decision.
“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.”
Agency Heads Agree with the Million-Euro Fine
The DPC handles the regulation of giant technology firms with European headquarters in the Republic of Ireland. It has not given such an enormous fine for violating the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation until now.
However, the previous year, it fined WhatsApp €225 million 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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