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Facebook fined €150,000 by French regulator for gathering internet user data

18 May 2017

Facebook has been fined €150,000 by France's data protection watchdog for gathering information on internet users without their permission.

The social network was fined for six violations, including collecting information on users "without having a legal basis" to target them with advertising, and tracking users unfairly without warning them that they were being tracked.

The fine amount, which is the maximum possible, was levied by The Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL) after it warned last year that Facebook stop tracking the web activity of non-users of the service without getting their consent, as also an order to stop some transfers of personal data back to the US.

CNIL said about the fine: "Facebook proceeded to a massive compilation of personal data of internet users in order to display targeted advertising ... it collected data on the browsing activity of internet users on third-party websites, via the 'datr' cookie, without their knowledge."

Facebook continues to maintain the stance that any issues with data protection should go through the Irish watchdog since its European headquarters were in Ireland.

"We take note of the CNIL's decision with which we respectfully disagree," the social network said in a statement. "At Facebook, putting people in control of their privacy is at the heart of everything we do."

CNIL fined Facebook for breaching French privacy laws by tracking and using the personal data of 33 million users, as well as non-users who browse the internet.

CNIL has accused Facebook of collecting data about account holders' "political or religious opinions," "sexual orientation" and other personal characteristics without their knowledge.

Facebook said in a statement it had taken steps in recent years to address privacy concerns and "simplified our policies further to help people understand how we use information to make Facebook better."

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