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Facebook Hit with $1.4 Million Privacy Fine in Spain: Here's Why

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On Monday, the Spanish data protection authority (AEPD) said that social media giant Facebook Inc. (FB - Free Report) has been violating privacy rules regarding the way it uses people’s personal data for advertising purposes.

Because of this, the AEPD has fined Facebook €1.2 Million, or about $1.44 million. This marks yet another fine against Facebook for privacy violations in Europe.

In particular, Spain’s AEPD is investigating how Facebook collected data on ideology, sex, religious beliefs, personal tastes, and navigation, and believes the company is doing so without obtaining adequate user consent. Total sanctions could amount to €300,000 for each of the first breaches and €600,000 for the second.

Not having proper consent to users’ personal data is “classified as a very serious offense under local DP law,” notes TechCrunch.

The company’s use of web browsing cookies, which is a tool that helps websites keep track of a user’s visits and activity, has come under fire as well. The AEPD said users are not made aware of when their personal data is being processed through cookies when browsing non-Facebook pages that contain one of Facebook’s social ‘Like’ buttons.

Spain’s data regulator also claims that Facebook does not delete harvested data once the tech company is done using it, and believes Facebook doesn’t delete data from web browsing habits, but “retains and reuses it later associated with the same user”.

Facebook has been fined for similar violations in the past by Belgium, which it successfully overturned the ruling, as well as France, the Netherlands, and Germany.

Read Facebook’s full statement below:

“We take note of the DPA’s decision with which we respectfully disagree. Whilst we value the opportunities we’ve had to engage with the DPA to reinforce how seriously we take the privacy of people who use Facebook, we intend to appeal this decision.

“As we made clear to the DPA, users choose which information they want to add to their profile and share with others, such as their religion. However, we do not use this information to target adverts to people.”

“Facebook has long complied with EU data protection law through our establishment in Ireland. We remain open to continuing to discuss these issues with the DPA, whilst we work with our lead regulator the Irish Data Protection Commissioner as we prepare for the EU’s new data protection regulation in 2018.”

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

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