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Irish watchdog fines Meta 265 million euros in latest privacy case

A car passes Facebook's new Meta logo on a sign at the company headquarters in Menlo Park, California, on October 28, 2021. (Tony Avelar/AP)
A car passes Facebook's new Meta logo on a sign at the company headquarters in Menlo Park, California, on October 28, 2021. (Tony Avelar/AP)

Irish regulators slap Facebook parent Meta with a 265 million euro ($277 million) fine, the company’s latest punishment for breaching strict European Union data privacy rules.

The Data Protection Commission says Meta Platforms infringed sections of the EU rules, known as the General Data Protection Regulation, that require technical and organizational measures aimed at protecting user data.

The watchdog opened an investigation last year into news reports that data on more 533 million users was found dumped online. The data was found on a website for hackers and included names, Facebook IDs, phone numbers, locations, birthdates and email addresses for people from more than 100 countries, according to the reports.

Meta said the data had been “scraped” from Facebook using tools designed to help people find their friends through phone numbers using search and contact import features. The watchdog said it investigated scraping carried out between May 2018 and September 2019.

The company says it had “cooperated fully” with the Irish watchdog.

“We made changes to our systems during the time in question, including removing the ability to scrape our features in this way using phone numbers,” Meta says in a statement. “Unauthorized data scraping is unacceptable and against our rules.”

Along with the fine, the commission said it also imposed on Meta a “range of corrective measures,” which weren’t specified.

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