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Facebook fined €7 million in Italy for ‘misleading’ data practices

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Italy’s competition watchdog has fined Facebook €7 million for “misleading” data protection practices.

The tech giant has been accused of not accurately and fairly informing its users when their data was being collected, the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) said.

The authority already fined the social media platform €5 million in November 2018 for unfair commercial practices and ordered it to adjust its practices.

“Facebook Ireland Ltd. and Facebook Inc. failed to comply with the warning to remove the unfair practice on the use of user data and did not publish the corrective statement requested by the Authority,” the AGCM said in a statement.

“They still do not provide immediate and clear information on the collection and use of user data for commercial purposes.”

“This is information that the consumer needs to decide whether or not to subscribe to the service, given the economic value that Facebook places on data provided by the user, which represents payment for the use of the service.”
In a statement to Euronews, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed the social network had appealed against the initial fine.

“We note the Italian Competition Authority’s announcement today, but we await the Council of State decision on our appeal against the Authority’s initial findings,” the spokesperson said.

“Facebook takes privacy extremely seriously and we have already made changes, including to our Terms of Service, to further clarify how Facebook uses data to provide its service and to provide tailored advertising.”

The platform said they had made changes to their terms of service to clarify how Facebook makes money, by charging businesses and other organisations to display ads.

According to the AGCM, the social network had deceived new users on the platform by not informing them “immediately and adequately” how it collects and uses their data for commercial purposes.

The authority also said that the information provided by Facebook was “generic and incomplete” and did not distinguish between when data was used for personalising Facebook services, or for advertising campaigns.

Facebook was initially fined and ordered to publish a corrected statement on data policies on “the homepage of the company’s website for Italy, on the Facebook app and on the personal page of each registered Italian user”.

“The current investigation has ascertained that the two companies have not published the corrective statement and have not ceased the established unfair practice”, the AGCM added.

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