The Italian Competition Authority (ICA) has fined Facebook 10 million euros ($11.3 million) for selling users' data without informing them and "aggressively" discouraging users from trying to limit how the company shares their data.
ICA has opened an inverstigation last April for alleged violations of the Consumer Code by Facebook Ireland Ltd. and its parent company Facebook Inc. The inverstigation resulted a total fine of 10 million euros to both companies.
The Italian authority concluded that Facebook "misleads consumers into registering in the Facebook platform, while not adequately and immediately informing them during the creation of the account that the data they provide will be used for commercial purposes." In addition, Facebook "emphasizes the free nature of the service but not the commercial objectives that underlie the provision of the social network service, thus inducing users into making a transactional decision that they would not have taken otherwise (i.e., to register in the social network and to continue using it )."
ICA said that the information provided is "general and incomplete" and does not adequately make a distinction between the use of data to personalize the service (in order to connect "consumer" users with each other) and the use of data to carry out advertising campaigns aimed at specific targets.
The ICA also found that Facebook discourages registered users from trying to limit how the company shares their data by telling them that by doing so they risk "significant limitations".
"When users decide to limit their consent, they are faced with significant restrictions on the use of the social network and third-party websites / apps, which induce users to maintain the pre-selected choice," ICA said.