The South Korean watchdog launched in August this year has slapped America’s social media mammoth Facebook with a 6.7 billion won fine (equal to $6.06 million) for sharing user data without consent, a violation of the country’s laws.
The company was found guilty of sharing data of at least 3.3 million South Korean based users, from the total 18 million, with third parties without their consent for over six years from May 2012 to June 2018.
The fine follows over two years of investigation since the country’s Communications Commission kicked off sleuthing in 2018, handing it over to the recently formed Personal Information Protection Commission.
When a person used Facebook’s login service to access third-party services, the other platform could access their Facebook friends’ data. The shared personal data included names, date of birth, addresses, relationship status, work experience, and hometown. And, according to the investigators, the company could’ve shared the data with up to 10,000 other companies.
This is because Facebook had no granular controls on data types; third-party developers could collect about a user when they logged in using its login service.
The company’s watchdog also accused Facebook of being uncooperative in the investigation by submitting “incomplete or false documents” – a claim disputed by the social media company. Facebook was fined 66 million won separately for false documentation.
Facebook Ireland Ltd, the company that ran Facebook in South Korea during the period, will also be referred to a criminal investigation trial.
If found guilty, Facebook Ireland’s user privacy director at the time could be fined up to 50 million won or serve up to a five-year jail term, according to South Korean media outlet Yonhap News.
Facebook’s troubles with Privacy Watchdogs
The Cambridge Analytica scandal paved the way for a series of investigations across different parts of the world where Facebook operates.
It under the same grounds that the company has been fined several times, including the record-breaking $5 billion fine the company had to pay to the FCC in 2019 to settle a year-long investigation in the US.
Facebook paid UK’s privacy watchdog a £500,000 fine (about $643,000) last year and about $1.1 million for violating Italy’s privacy laws.