Spanish Data Privacy Regulator Fines Facebook $1.5mn

Facebook is fined 1.2 million euros in Spain for failing to prevent its users' data being accessed by advertisers

On Monday, the Spanish data protection authority (AEPD) said Facebook had been breaking privacy rules on multiple counts over the way it uses people's personal data for advertising purposes.

According to a report in Politico, the Spanish government's data protection authority found three cases during which Facebook collected data on millions of people and filed to inform users how it would be used.

Further, Facebook's privacy policy "contains generic and unclear expressions", AEPD said, adding that it takes many levels of navigation on the part of users to even find it.

The Spanish Data Protection Agency alleges that Facebook collected personal data from its users in Spain without obtaining their "unequivocal consent".

This situation also occurs when users are not members of the social network but have ever visited one of its pages, as well as when users who are registered on Facebook browse through third party pages, even without logging on to Facebook. In such, it views Facebook in much the same way as its French peers do.

The ruling is just the latest in a battle that Europe's data protection agencies are collectively waging against the social media giant, which has a long history of abusing the data it gathers from users to make money and has been renowned for constantly changing its "privacy settings".

The regulator found Facebook had failed to inform users how their data would be used as it hoovered up the details of millions of people in Spain.

In recent months, they have been conducting an investigation into Facebook alongside similar probes which are taking place in a number of other European Union countries, notably Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Examples of sensitive data include information on religious and philosophical views, sex life, and sexual orientation.

That's a minuscule amount compared to quarterly revenues of some $8B. The AEPD said this sort of collection doesn't comply with the EU's data protection regulations.

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Facebook says that it rejects the agency's decision to an impose a fine and will appeal the penalty.

In a statement from the AEPD, it shed light on Facebook's vague privacy policy.

Aldous said that Facebook allows users to choose the kind of personal information, such as their religion, they want to share in their online profile.

Shares of Facebook are now up about 1.2% in late-morning trading, while the stock is a #3 (Hold) on the Zacks Rank.

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