The Italian Competition Authority fines Facebook for misleading practices regarding data, chapter two

Today, the Italian Competition Authority (ICA) issued a 7 million euro fine to Facebook Ireland Ltd and Facebook Inc for failing to comply with the request to end their unfair practice regarding the use of users’ personal data, and to publish a due rectification (full text in Italian here).

Indeed, in November 2018 the ICA found the information given by Facebook to the users at the moment of the creation of the account misleading, due to the lack of adequate disclosure about the economic value of their personal data, which are monetized through the supply of targeted advertising (case PS1112). On the contrary, the ICA found that Facebook emphasized the free nature of the service, inducing users into making a transaction that they would not have taken otherwise. The misleading nature of such practice has also been confirmed by the Italian administrative judge (T.A.R. Lazio, decisions nn. 260/2020 and 261/2020).

The ICA advances that Facebook, despite having removed the claim about the free-of-charge nature of the service, still fails to provide users with clear information on the role of data as a means of payment in the exchange.

Alessandro Cavalieri

Italian Competition Authority, decision of 17 February 2021, ICA v. Facebook Ireland Ltd and Facebook Inc

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