ROME, Feb. 17 — Italy’s competition watchdog has fined social networking giant Facebook seven million euros (8.45 million U.S. dollars) for failing to comply with a previous order related to improper use of its subscribers’ data.
After an investigation, the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) said on Wednesday that it had found that Facebook Inc. and its subsidiary Facebook Ireland Ltd. did not implement a 2018 order requiring them to dismiss an incorrect practice in the use of users’ data, nor did they publish a corrective declaration requested by the watchdog.
In November 2018, after a nine-month investigation, the AGCM concluded that Facebook used subscribers’ data in a way that breached Italy’s Consumer Code. Therefore, it handed Facebook two fines totaling 10 million euros (12 million U.S. dollars).
The first fine was imposed because Facebook “deceptively persuades users to register on the platform” without informing them properly and immediately in the signup phase that their data would be collected for commercial purposes, the watchdog explained.
On Friday, the Italian competition watchdog explained in a statement that the new seven-million-euro fine was decided because “the two companies have not published the corrective statement and have not ceased the established unfair practice.”
Although the “claim of gratuity” at the point of registering has been eliminated, “immediate and clear information is not yet provided on the collection and use of the users’ data for commercial purposes,” the AGCM said on Wednesday.
According to the AGCM, such information is necessary to enable consumers to decide whether to subscribe to the service, “in the light of the economic value the users’ transferred data have for Facebook, which represents the payment for using the service.”
The most recent proceeding against Facebook was launched in January 2020, and the fine was decided in a meeting on Feb. 9, according to the Italian watchdog.
The original investigation leading to the two previous financial penalties in 2018 was opened after three Italian advocacy groups filed a class-action lawsuit against Facebook for the alleged improper use of personal data filed. (1 euro = 1.21 U.S. dollars)