Security & Fraud

Facebook Hit With Fine From UK’s Information Commission Over Data Handling

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Facebook got hit with a $644,600 fine in the U.K. after the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) ruled that the social media network operator was engaged in “serious breaches of data protection.”

CNBC, citing the ICO, reported that the government watchdog alleged Thursday (Oct. 25) that the personal information of one million or more U.K. users has been harvested by Facebook and thus put at risk. The data, which was processed from 2007 through 2014, was accessible to developers of third-party vendors without the Facebook users providing consent. The report noted that in July, that the ICO said it intended to slap Facebook with the highest fine possible.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham confirmed the action with CNBC, saying that Facebook failed to keep the personal information of its users secure. “Facebook failed to sufficiently protect the privacy of its users before, during and after the unlawful processing of this data,” she said in a statement. “A company of its size and expertise should have known better and it should have done better.”

Facebook has been under fire for months now about how it handles, gathers and protects the data of its more than two billion users. But that hasn’t stopped it from trying to amass more of it. In September, The Wall Street Journal reported the social media company has been trying to get its hands on financial information from the financial services firms for years.

According to the report – citing people familiar with the matter and documents reviewed by the paper – as late as 2017, Facebook urged financial firms to let them use customer data that comes from its Messenger platform for advertising and other initiatives. Several financial firms that were concerned about privacy reached agreements with the company to limit how it can use information that comes through its servers. The talks between Facebook and the firms underscore how the social media company balances the use of data for targeted advertisements with concerns about user privacy.

“Like many online companies, we partner with financial institutions to improve people’s commerce experiences, like enabling better customer service, and people opt into these experiences,” Elisabeth Diana, a Facebook spokeswoman, told The Wall Street Journal at the time. “We’ve emphasized to partners that keeping people’s information safe and secure is critical to these efforts. That has been and always will be our priority.”

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