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Brazil slaps Facebook with US$1.6 million fine for data misuse

Don't worry, we speak : Español (Spanish), too!

Contxto – Facebook in Brazil ended 2019 with a US$1.6 million fine from the country’s Ministry of Justice and Public Security. According to a briefing from last week, the social media giant was a co-participant in data misuse. Specifically, it allowed user’s data to be shared with a third-party application called “thisisyourdigitallife.”

News reports brought the case to the ministry’s attention after the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke in early 2018. 

Facebook has 30 days to pay the fine and 10 days to appeal the ministry’s decision.

Fine trouble Facebook’s in

Everyone knows this isn’t the first time the social media giant gets in trouble with the law. In the United States and the UK it has already agreed to pay fines for its role in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

However, this is the first time the event leads to fine-related repercussions in Brazil.

An agency on behalf of the ministry carried out the corresponding investigation. It ultimately determined that data for around 443,000 Facebook users was shared with developers for thisisyourdigitallife for “questionable purposes.”

Wanna know what else is questionable? An app styled with a name like thisisyourdigitallife.

Ranting aside, users began to cry “wolf,” err, “Cambridge Analytica” because the absurdly christened thisisyourdigitallife is the same the app that harvested data from millions of Facebook users. Data which was then provided to Cambridge Analytica, the centerpiece in the largest privacy scandal up to date.

In any case, while Brazilian authorities determined that there was data misuse but it is unrelated to Cambridge Analytica, the firm.

For now, Facebook is considering its legal options; whether to fight back on the ruling, appeal to reduce the fine, or lower simply accept the charges.

The time for privacy in Brazil

Taking into account that Brazil’s General Data Protection Act (LGPD) is set to go into effect this year, Facebook got off somewhat lightly. 

Under LGPD, companies both from Brazil and abroad, that misuse a person’s data will be fined for up to two percent of their revenue for the previous fiscal year. Moreover, the fine is capped at R$50 million (around US$12.28 million).

The cornerstone for this regulation is for companies to be more accountable for how they process a person’s information.

Nonetheless, facing a maximum fine of US$12.28 million isn’t much to make big data processors (like Facebook) flinch. Plus, there’s talk that some Brazilian regulators are looking to push the effective date on this regulation to 2022. This is so because, according to some legislators, businesses need more time to prepare.

Be that as it may, whether it’s in 2020 or later, Brazil and other countries in Latin America will be raising their expectations and regulations for data protection and privacy.

-ML

Mariana López
My topic darlings are startup management, edtech, and all-things pop culture. J Balvin is Latin America's best reggaetonero and I dare you to convince me otherwise.

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