The Irish regulatory authorities have fined Instagram €405 million for violating the privacy of children.
The ongoing complaint centered on the personal information of children, specifically their contact information (such as phone numbers and email addresses).
According to reports, some users upgraded to business accounts in order to gain access to analytics tools like profile visits, but they did so without realizing that doing so made more of their data public.
Instagram’s owner, Meta, said it planned to appeal against the decision. It is the third time that the regulatory body has issued the company a fine.
The Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) of Ireland stated that they had adopted their final decision the previous Friday, and it does contain a fine of €405m (approximately £349m).
According to a spokesperson for Meta, who spoke with Media, the investigation “focused on old settings that we updated over a year ago, and we’ve since released many new features to help keep teens safe and their information private.”
When a user under the age of 18 joins Instagram, the account is automatically set to private. This means that only the people they know personally can view the content they post, and adults are unable to send direct messages to teens who do not follow them.
“Although we have cooperated fully with the DPC throughout their investigation, we disagree with how this fine was computed, and we plan to appeal it.
“We are continuing to look over the remaining aspects of the decision in great detail.”
Large technology companies that have their European headquarters in the Republic of Ireland are subject to the regulation of the DPC.
In the past, it has never issued a fine of such a significant amount for violating the General Data Protection Regulation of the European Union.
However, it fined WhatsApp 225 million euros the year before, while Luxembourg’s data authority fined Amazon a record 746 million euros.
Andy Burrows, head of child-safety-online policy at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), commented on Instagram’s fine, saying, “This was a major breach that had significant safeguarding implications and the potential to cause real harm to children using Instagram.”
“The ruling demonstrates how effective enforcement can protect children on social media and highlights how regulation is already making children safer online. It also highlights how effective enforcement can protect children on social media.
“At this point, it is up to the new prime minister to keep the promise made to provide children with the highest level of protection possible by delivering the Online Safety Bill in its entirety and without delay.”