Brazil fines Facebook $1.6 million over improper data sharing

Brazil fines Facebook $1.6 million over improper data sharing
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Brazil announced Monday that it had fined Facebook $1.6 million over improperly sharing user data with Cambridge Analytica.

In issuing the fine, the Department of Consumer Protection said the data of 443,000 Facebook users was “misused” by developers of the Facebook app “thisisyourdigitallife."

The agency ruled the data was used “for questionable purposes and without the represented parties being able to demonstrate any modifying fact that that number was actually smaller.”

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The agency further ruled that Facebook “failed to provide appropriate information to their users” with regard to privacy settings on the social media platform, and how user data was shared with third-party apps.

A Facebook spokesperson pushed back against the agency's findings, telling The Hill in a statement that the company is “currently evaluating our legal options in this case.”

"We are focused on protecting people’s information and privacy,” the spokesperson said. “We have made changes to our platform and restricted the information accessible to app developers. There is no evidence data from users in Brazil were transferred to Cambridge Analytica.”

The “thisisyourdigitallife” app was built by Cambridge Analytica in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election to gather information about Facebook users in order to target them for political advertisements.

The Federal Trade Commission unanimously ruled earlier this month that Cambridge Analytica engaged in “deceptive practices” in harvesting user data, finding that the now-defunct company had deceived users about what data would be collected and how it would be used.

Brazil's Ministry of Justice and Public Security wrote in a statement announcing the fine that its investigation into improper data sharing examined “the violation of the personal data of the Facebook platform's contracting consumers, as well as whether someone had obtained improper access to such data, taking into account the user's consent form, where sharing is the default, and automatic data sharing with application developers of this user's friends.”

Facebook has 10 days to appeal the fine. If it does not appeal, the company has 30 days to pay the fine.

This is not the first financial penalty Facebook has faced following the scandal in which Cambridge Analytica harvested the data of around 50 million Facebook users without their permission to pinpoint voters, part of the firm's role as consultants for the Trump campaign.

Facebook settled with the Federal Trade Commission in July, and was ordered to pay $5 billion for not adequately protecting user data. The company was fined $645,000 by the British government in October for related data security concerns involving Cambridge Analytica.