The Irish Data Protection Commission launched an inquiry into Instagram in 2020 for mishandling children’s data, which resulted in Instagram being fined over 400 million euros.
Instagram, which is owned by Meta, was found to have broken the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is a European privacy legislation, and the Irish Data Protection Commission has fined the company 405 million euros ($403 million).
The Irish Data Protection Commission launched an inquiry into Instagram in 2020 as a result of the social media platform’s policy of making accounts of children between the ages of 13 and 17 public by default. Children were able to create business accounts on Instagram, exposing their phone numbers and email addresses to the world.
A commission spokeswoman confirmed to Reuters that the platform controlled by Meta was subject to a 405 million euro fine as a result of the EU’s final ruling. Only next week will more information on the subject be released.
After Amazon was fined a record 746 million euros ($743 million) by Luxembourg’s data protection office in July of last year, this is the second-highest fine assessed under the GDPR regulations.
This is the third sanction the Irish regulator has imposed on a business owned by Meta. WhatsApp was penalised 225 million euros ($224 million) in September 2021. Facebook was hit with a 17 million euro ($17 million) penalties in March of this year. At least six further inquiries into companies controlled by Meta are currently being conducted by the Irish Data Protection Commission.
Numerous court cases involving Meta’s data harvesting methods are centred on Ireland. Ireland has the duty to guarantee that the platform complies with GDPR regulations because the company has its European headquarters there.
This year, more legislation was passed in Europe by policymakers to safeguard children online. The Digital Services Act, for instance, forbids companies from using information to target tailored adverts to those under the age of 18.
Meta Response, US Laws
According to Politico, a Meta representative stated in a statement that the 405 million euro punishment is connected to an investigation that concentrated on outdated Instagram settings.
The company released various tools to safeguard young users’ information since updating these settings more than a year ago, the spokesman stated.
“Anyone under 18 automatically has their account set to private when they join Instagram, so only people they know can see what they post, and adults can’t message teens who don’t follow them.”
“We engaged fully with the DPC [the Irish regulator] throughout their inquiry, and we’re carefully reviewing their final decision,” the spokesperson said.
Several countries, notably the United States, are stepping up their efforts to protect children online in addition to Ireland. A.B. 2273, the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, was enacted by the California Legislature on August 30 and is anticipated to take effect in July 2024 after being signed by the state’s governor.
The Republican state senator from California, Jordan Cunningham, is a co-sponsor of the legislation that requires online companies to minimize the risks that some common features, such allowing strangers to message one another, pose to children.