South Korea’s privacy watchdog slapped historic fines on Big Tech oligopolies Google and Meta (formerly Facebook) for violating user privacy.
In a statement Wednesday, South Korea’s Personal Information and Protection Commission said it fined Google $50 million and Facebook $22 million for illegally tracking their users’ online behavior without their consent.
The combined $72 million fine was the largest penalty ever levied in South Korea for privacy violations, according to the PIPC.
Both Google and Facebook collected private data from users for many years, the Korea Times reported Wednesday.
“Google has had Korean users give their consent without knowledge to such data collection by a default setting since at least 2016 while Meta, the operator of Facebook, has not informed or got consent from users since 2018, according to the watchdog,” the report said.
“As a result, over 82 percent of Google users and over 98 percent of Meta users in Korea have their user behavior data on platforms outside of Google and Meta exposed to their illegal data collection, the PIPC said.”
The commission ordered both Meta and Google to provide a clear and simple process for users to give consent over whether their personal information can be gathered or shared with third parties.
Normally, this kind of harsh smackdown would cause CEOs to reconsider what they’re doing and change their behavior.
However, this is unlikely in the case of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, who has been repeatedly fined and censured for his platforms’ long history of privacy infringement.
Just last week, Instagram — which is owned by Meta — was fined more than $400 million for violating children’s privacy pursuant to the European Union’s data protection law, Politico reported.
This was the third such fine for a Meta-owned company.
The Irish Data Protection Commission — which has supervisory authority over the General Data Protection Regulation — is currently investigating at least six other similar privacy violations by Meta, according to Politico.
What Zuckerberg’s recidivist pattern suggests is that it’s far more profitable for his companies to violate consumer privacy and pay nominal fines than to follow privacy laws.
Meta Platforms has a market cap of more than $403 billion.
As a reminder, in 2019, Zuckerberg agreed to pay a record-setting $5 billion fine to the Federal Trade Commission for violating user privacy by selling their personal data to third parties without their consent for years.
In a July 2019 statement, then-FTC chairman Joe Simons slammed Facebook for its repeated infringements.
“Despite repeated promises to its billions of users worldwide that they could control how their personal information is shared, Facebook undermined consumers’ choices,” Simons said. “The magnitude of the $5 billion penalty and sweeping conduct relief are unprecedented in the history of the FTC.”
He added, “The relief is designed not only to punish future violations but, more importantly, to change Facebook’s entire privacy culture to decrease the likelihood of continued violations.”
As we see now, even this historic fine had little deterrence effect on Zuckerberg’s behavior.
You won’t believe what he’s cooking up next.
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