Ireland levied a 405 million euros ($402 million) fine on Instagram for breaching children’s data privacy. According to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, the Data Protection Commission (DPC) decided to fine the social media networking service after raising concerns over the misuse of young users’ phone numbers and email addresses.
The findings of the Data Protection Commission
The Data Protection Commission observed that children were upgrading to business accounts to use extended features that let them view their profile visits. However, this made the accounts public, making the children vulnerable to abuse.
Meta set to appeal against the fine
Addressing the fine, Instagram owner Meta affirmed that it would appeal against it. However, this is not the first time the regulators have fined the company. It is their third such claim against Meta.
In 2021, Irish regulators fined Meta-owned WhatsApp 225 million euros for violations regarding its messaging services. In March 2022, the tech giant was fined 17 million euros for failing to protect users from data breaches. Since Meta has its European headquarters in Dublin, it falls to the Data Protection Commission to enforce the regulations.
Meta clarifies its stand
Speaking about the issue, a Meta official told BBC that the allegations were based on older settings, after which the company added many new features to protect children’s data. “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,” the official said. Adding that the company disagrees with the penal action and how it was calculated to the sum of $400 million, the official stated that Meta would further review the decision and appeal against it.
Commenting on the fine imposed on Instagram, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) Andy Burrows told BBC that such breaches could harm the children using the social networking service. “The ruling demonstrates how effective enforcement can protect children on social media and underlines how regulation is already making children safer online,” he added.
Observing data breach
According to reports, the fine comes after observing children’s data usage on Instagram for two years. Following the investigation, Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner sent an email mentioning the fine. More details of the case and the fine imposed on Instagram are awaited.