Irish regulators are imposing a big fine on Instagram after an investigation found the social media platform mishandled teenagers’ personal information in breach of strict European Union data privacy rules.
Ireland’s Data Protection Commission said via email on Monday that it took the final decision last week to impose a fine of 405 million euros ($402 million), although full details are not available. published before next week.
The penalty is the second largest imposed under tough EU privacy rules, after Luxembourg regulators fined Amazon 746 million euros last year.
Instagram’s parent company Meta, which also owns Facebook, said while it had “fully engaged” with regulators throughout the investigation, “we disagree with how this fine has been calculated and we intend to appeal”.
The Irish watchdog’s investigation focused on how Instagram displayed the personal details of users aged between 13 and 17, including email addresses and phone numbers. The minimum age for Instagram users is 13 years old.
The investigation began after a data scientist discovered that users, including those under the age of 18, were switching to business accounts and had their contact details displayed on their profiles. Users were apparently doing this to see stats on how many likes their posts were getting after Instagram began removing the personal accounts feature in some countries to help with mental health.
Instagram said the investigation focused on “old settings” which were updated more than a year ago, and it has since released new privacy features for teens, including making it private. their accounts when they join.
“We continue to carefully review the remainder of the decision,” the company said.
Under EU data privacy rules, the Irish watchdog is the primary regulator for many US tech companies with European headquarters in Dublin.
The watchdog has a series of other investigations into companies owned by Meta. Last year, it fined WhatsApp 225 million euros for breaking transparency rules about sharing people’s data with other Meta companies.