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Instagram said they “engaged fully” with the authorities throughout the investigation. More details from Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) regarding the fine will be released next week.
Irish regulators have fined social networking platform Instagram for violation of personal data policy. Now, Instagram has to pay as much as 405 million euros ($402 million) in fine, as set by the data privacy watchdog of Ireland.
Notably, the penalty is the second-highest one issued under the European Union’s stringent privacy rules. It follows only the fine of 746 million euros issued by Luxembourg’s authorities for Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN) last year.
According to Meta Platforms Inc (NASDAQ: META), the parent company of Instagram, they disagree with the calculation. The company said:
“While we’ve engaged fully with the DPC throughout their inquiry, we disagree with how this fine was calculated and intend to appeal it. We’re continuing to carefully review the rest of the decision.”
More details from Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) will be released next week.
Investigation into Instagram’s Data Policy
The investigation into how Instagram is handling users’ personal data started back in 2020. A data scientist David Stier noticed that users, including those under 18, were switching to business accounts, with their contact information displayed on their profiles. For users, it was a way to see their profiles’ statistics. However, the option to switch to a business account confronted the EU privacy rules introduced in 2018 (in case of teens switching their profiles). Instagram said they “engaged fully” with the authorities throughout the investigation. However, Meta was dissatisfied.
“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. 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 minimum age to register as an Instagram user is 13. This was set to protect children from the possible negative impact social media can have. The social media network updated its settings over a year ago and has since then released new features to keep teens safe.
Investigations into Meta Companies
Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) is closely watching such tech giants as Apple Inc (NYSE: AAPL), Google LLC, Meta subsidiaries, and other companies, regulating their business. This is partly due to the location of their EU headquarters in Ireland.
Notably, the recent fine for Instagram is not the first time Ireland is conducting an investigation into one of Meta companies. To be precise, DPC has at the moment six other investigations into Meta-owned companies. Last year, the regulator charged WhatsApp with as much as 225 million euro ($266 million) for violation of the rules introduced by the EU in 2018.
Then, in March this year, DPC fined Facebook with 17 million euros($18.6 million) for the same breach. Now, Ireland’s total penalties against the Meta company over data and privacy issues makes up 647 million euros fo the past two years.