Facebook fined $ 70 million for “willful” non-compliance by UK regulator

The Autorité de la concurrence et des marchés (CMA) said in a statement on Wednesday that Facebook had “consciously” refused to provide all the information required during a investigation the acquisition by the technology giant of an online database Giphy.

The regulator issued an “initial enforcement order” linked to the takeover in June 2020, requiring companies to compete with each other as usual and halt any integration efforts during the investigation.

Facebook was required to provide the regulator with regular updates on its compliance. The tech giant “has significantly limited the scope of these updates,” the CMA said on Wednesday, “despite repeated warnings.” The regulator said it had concluded that “Facebook’s disrespect was willful.”

The AMC said it was the first time a company violated an initial enforcement order by “consciously refusing to release all required information.” The fine of £ 50.5million ($ 70million) is 155 times higher than the previous record for this type of violation.

“We warned Facebook that its refusal to provide us with important information was a violation of the order but, even after losing its appeal in two separate courts, Facebook continued to ignore its legal obligations,” said the senior director of CMA mergers, Joel Bamford, in a statement. declaration.

“This should serve as a warning to any business that thinks it is above the law,” Bamford added.

Facebook said in a statement that it “strongly disagrees” with the “regulator’s” unfair decision to punish Facebook for a best-effort compliance approach. “

“We will review the CMA’s decision and consider our options,” the company added.

The CMA also fined Facebook £ 500,000 ($ 690,000) for changing compliance officers twice without first seeking consent. The regulator’s investigation into Facebook’s acquisition of Giphy is ongoing and no decision has been taken to date.

UK and EU regulators separately announced in June that they were investigating Facebook’s use of data for antitrust reasons.

Pressure on the company is also coming from US lawmakers after a whistleblower went public with claims that Facebook has repeatedly prioritized profits over the public good.

Appearing before U.S. lawmakers earlier this month, former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen detailed a series of concerns, including the company knowing it was serving harmful content related to the unrest. feeding to young users and that the use of Facebook by authoritarian leaders could present national security. concerns.

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