Facebook fined 1.2 mln euros by Spanish data watchdog

A 3D plastic representation of the Facebook logo is seen in this illustration photo, on May 13, 2015. (File photo by Reuters)
Updated 11 September 2017
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Facebook fined 1.2 mln euros by Spanish data watchdog

MADRID: 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.
Facebook has collected personal data from its users in Spain without obtaining their “unequivocal consent” and without informing them how such information would be used, the Spanish Data Protection Agency said in a statement.
“Facebook collects data on ideology, sex, religious beliefs, personal tastes or navigation without clearly informing about the use and purpose that it will give them,” the statement said.
The watchdog said Facebook’s privacy policy “contains generic and unclear terms” and it “does not adequately collect the consent of either its users or nonusers, which constitutes a serious infringement” of data protection rules.
The agency said Facebook did not remove the personal data which it collects from its data base even when a user requests this.
It said it fined the company 600,000 euros for a very serious violation of the country’s data protection rules and 300,000 euros each for two serious violations.
The 1.2-million-euro fine is small in the context of the company which posted advertising revenues of $9.2 billion in the second quarter, mainly from mobile video ad sales.
Contacted by AFP, Facebook was not immediately available to react to the fine.
It is the latest in a series of legal problems that have beset the social networking giant in recent years.
France’s data protection agency in May fined Facebook 150,000 euros for failing to prevent its users’ data being accessed by advertisers following a two-year investigation.
It said at the time that Facebook had built up “a massive compilation of personal data of Internet users in order to display targeted advertising.”
Last year, French watchdog had given Facebook a deadline to stop tracking non-users’ web activity without their consent and ordered the social network to cease some transfers of personal data to the United States.
Belgian, German, and Dutch governments are also looking into how Facebook holds and uses data pertaining to their citizens, according to Spain’s data protection agency.
A “contact group” has been formed at the European level to protect that personal data of Facebook users which is made up of the Spanish data protection agency and its counterparts in France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.
Facebook’s social network, now with 2.01 billion monthly active users, is steadily driving sales at a faster pace than other technology giants.


Israel targets rights groups with bill to outlaw filming of soldiers

Israeli soldiers are under constant attack by Israel haters, says defense minister. (AFP)
Updated 17 June 2018
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Israel targets rights groups with bill to outlaw filming of soldiers

  • Rights groups frequently film Israeli soldiers on duty in the occupied West Bank, documentation the organizations say is necessary to expose abuse by the military
  • A ministerial committee which oversees legislation voted to approve the bill on Sunday

JERUSALEM: Israel moved on Sunday to snap the lens shut on rights groups that film its troops’ interactions with Palestinians by introducing a bill that would make it a criminal offense.
Rights groups frequently film Israeli soldiers on duty in the occupied West Bank, documentation the organizations say is necessary to expose abuse by the military.
A video filmed by Israeli rights group B’Tselem in 2016 showing an Israeli soldier shoot dead an incapacitated Palestinian assailant drew international condemnation and led to the soldier’s conviction for manslaughter in a highly divisive trial.
The proposed law, formulated by the ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition, would make filming or publishing footage “with intent to harm the morale of Israel’s soldiers or its inhabitants” punishable by up to five years in prison.
The term would be raised to 10 years if the intention was to damage “national security.”
A ministerial committee which oversees legislation voted to approve the bill on Sunday. It will now go to parliament for a vote that could take place this week and if ratified, will be scrutinized and amended before three more parliamentary votes needed for it to pass into law.
Yisrael Beitenu leader and Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, praised the committee and said: “Israeli soldiers are under constant attack by Israel haters and supporters of terrorism who look constantly to degrade and sully them. We will put an end to this.”
A Palestinian official condemned the move.
“This decision aims to cover up crimes committed by Israeli soldiers against our people, and to free their hands to commit more crimes,” Deputy Palestinian Information Minister Fayez Abu Aitta told Reuters.
The phrasing of the bill stops short of a blanket ban, aiming instead at “anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian organizations” which spend “entire days near Israeli soldiers waiting breathlessly for actions that can be documented in a slanted and one-sided way so that soldiers can be smeared.”
Naming B’Tselem and several other rights groups, the bill says many of them are supported by organizations and governments with “a clear anti-Israel agenda” and that the videos are used to harm Israel and national security.
The ban would cover social networks as well as traditional media.
B’Tselem shrugged off the bill.
“If the occupation embarrasses the government, then the government should take action to end it. Documenting the reality of the occupation will continue regardless of such ridiculous legislation efforts,” the group’s spokesman, Amit Gilutz, said.
B’Tselem’s video of the shooting in the West Bank in 2016 led to Israeli soldier Elor Azaria being convicted of manslaughter. He was released in May after serving two-thirds of his 14-month term. Opinion polls after his arrest showed a majority of Israelis did not want a court-martial to take place.