Facebook hit with €1.2m fine in Spain for breaking privacy laws

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Spain's data protection watchdog has fined Facebook, saying the social network breached laws created to protect people's information and confidentiality.

According to a report in Politico, the Spanish government's data protection authority found three cases during which Facebook collected data on millions of people and filed to inform users how it would be used.

The Spanish watchdog's €1.2 million fine comes as data watchdogs across Europe are investigating Facebook.

Spain's data protection watchdog said Monday it has slapped Facebook with a fine of 1.2 million euros ($1.44 million) for failing to prevent its users' data being accessed by advertisers.

It said Facebook had failed to educate users on how their personal information - including ideology, sex, religious beliefs, personal interests and browsing habits - would be used for advertising. "The agency considers that Facebook does not adequately collect the consent of either its users or nonusers, which constitutes a serious infringement". This "very serious" violation resulted in a €600,000 fine.

Using cookies, Facebook also collects data from people who do not have an account on the social network but navigate other pages containing a "like" button, AEPD said.

The fine stemmed from an investigation into the social network company, which was conducted alongside similar probes in Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands, the AEPD authority said.

The social network was not immediately available to comment.

Under EU law, "personal data" means "any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person", so people's "likes" would qualify as personal data.

As the Menlo Park, Calif. -based company has grown profits through advertising, it's faced increasing scrutiny for its data collection practices and targeted advertising.

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