Italian Regulator Fines Facebook €1 million in Cambridge Analytica Scandal

Italian Regulator Fines Facebook €1 million in Cambridge Analytica Scandal

Fines don’t stop rolling when Facebook is involved. Italy’s data protection watchdog, Il Garante per la protezione dei dati, has just hit the tech company with a €1 million fine for mishandling user data following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, writes TechCrunch.

“The penalty, imposed on the basis of the old Privacy Code, follows the provision of the Guarantor of January of this year with which the Authority had forbidden Facebook to continue to treat Italian user data,” announced Il Garante per la protezione dei dati last week.

Watchdogs around the world are hunting Facebook to hold it accountable for user data theft. As the EU’s GDPR was not yet in full effect when the incident took place, Facebook received the fine based on the previous local privacy law. This is not the first fine Facebook has received from the Italian regulator. In March, Il Garante per la protezione dei dati fined the company €52,000.

According to the regulator, 57 Italians took the test, compromising their friends’ data. This resulted in the data collection of another 214,077 Italians, but it was not passed on to Cambridge Analytica for exploitation.

Cambridge University lecturer Aleksandr Kogan developed a personality test called ‘This Is Your Digital Life’ to steal the personal data of 87 million users in the US and gave it to Cambridge Analytica, which used it in political advertising campaigns. The information collected by Kogan was used to create profiles based on personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests and lifestyles.

He later gave the information to Cambridge Analytica, a British consulting company founded by Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer that used the profiles to influence Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Bannon was later named White House Chief Strategist by US President Donald Trump.

After the scandal, Facebook stopped allowing this type of data collection without user consent.

“We have said before that we wish we had done more to investigate claims about Cambridge Analytica in 2015, said a Facebook spokesperson, as quoted by TechCrunch. “However, evidence indicates that no Italian user data was shared with Cambridge Analytica. Dr Kogan only shared data with Cambridge Analytica in relation to US users.”

“We made major changes to our platform back then and have also significantly restricted the information which app developers can access,” the spokesperson said. “We’re focused on protecting people’s privacy and have invested in people, technology and partnerships, including hiring more than 20,000 people focused on safety and security over the last year. We will review the Garante’s decision and will continue to engage constructively with their concerns.”