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Facebook Ireland

Instagram hit by record €405 million fine by Data Protection Commissioner

This is the biggest fine ever handed out by the Data Protection Commissioner.

INSTAGRAM IS BEING fined €405 million by the Data Protection Commission (DPC) for breaching the privacy rights of children.

An investigation into the breaches was commenced by the DPC on 21 September 2020 after information was provided by a third party, alongside processing that was identified by the DPC itself.

It is the largest fine that has ever been handed out by the DPC, surpassing the fine issued to WhatsApp last September.

According to Deputy Commissioner Graham Doyle, the DPC made the decision last Friday.

“We adopted our final decision last Friday and it does contain a fine of €405 million,” said Doyle.

“Full details of the decision will publish next week.”

Instagram is owned and operated by social media giant Meta.

Meta has said that it intends on appealing the fine.

The scope of the inquiry itself was around two separate types of data processing that was carried out by Facebook Ireland Limited.

The first allowed children between the age of 13 and 17 to operate a ‘business account’ on Instagram.

“At certain times, the operation of such accounts required and/or facilitated the publication (to the world-at-large) of the child user’s phone number and/or email address,” said a DPC spokesperson.

The second form of processing saw a user registration system on Instagram automatically set children’s accounts to public, making the content available to anyone, unless it was manually changed to a private account within the app’s settings.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Meta 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.”

“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.

“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,” the spokesperson said.

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