Spanish Data Protection Agency fines Facebook €1.2 million for misusing personal data

Gender norms greatest barriers to use of tech in rural areas: Facebook official. Photo: Twitter

California/United States, September 12: Facebook, the online social networking site is fined 1.2 million euros ($1.4 million) for allegedly collecting the personal data from users that could later be used for advertising, according to reliable sources from national data protection watchdog said on Monday.

According to media reports from the Spanish Data Protection Agency, the fine that was raised from a probe into the social network company conducted alongside investigations in Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands. The fine of 1.2 million euro is a fraction of Facebook’s quarterly revenue of about $8 billion and stock market capitalization of around $435 billion.

The Spanish Data Protective Agency called as APED (Agencia Española de Protección de Datos) in Spanish said that three cases were found in which Facebook had collected details such as the gender, religious beliefs, personal tastes and browsing history of its millions of Spanish users without informing them how such information would be used. Facebook did not instantly respond to an email requesting comment.

According to the official reports from Agencia Española de Protección de Datos, Facebook did not sufficiently inform the users about how it would use data collected on third-party websites, and did not obtain consent to use it. “Facebook’s privacy policy contains generic and unclear terms,” the authority said in a statement.

The reliable sources from Agencia Española de Protección de Datos said that “Facebook uses specifically protected data for advertising, among other purposes, without obtaining users’ express consent as data protection law demands, a serious infringement. Using cookies, Facebook also collects data from people who do not have an account on the social network but navigate other pages containing a like button.

The activity of Facebook user’s could be also tracked on third-party sites, and the information collected is added to what is already associated with a Facebook account. Strong evidences were found that Facebook still keeps information for more than 17 months after users closed their accounts, according to official sources by the Agencia Española de Protección de Datos.
(Inputs from Reuters)