Instagram’s parent company Meta has been hit with a fine of €405 million (AU$591 million) after European authorities found it had breached European Union data privacy laws in its handling of children’s data.
The fine was announced by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, under a four-year-old General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which has previously been slammed for a lack of serious enforcement.
This comes amidst a number of moves aimed at increasing the privacy and security of children’s data across digital platforms such as social media and video games, including laws passed in both Britain and California requiring online services to increase the security of children’s data in particular.
An investigation into Instagram for the handling of children’s accounts and data began in 2020 via Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, after it was revealed the accounts of 13- to 17-year-olds were publicly visible under default settings and teenagers were able to make their contact information public on business accounts.
Meta has since announced that it disagrees with the decision and aims to take the battle to the courtrooms, which could lead to a drawn-out legal affair between the tech giant and the Data Protection Commission.
This isn’t the first instance of European or American lawmakers attempting to crack down on the usage of children’s data – US President Joe Biden has recently called for action on the use of children’s data in America – but it certainly is the largest fine of its kind to date.
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