Brazil fines Facebook for improper data sharing

BRASILIA • Brazil has fined Facebook US$1.65 million (S$2.2 million) for improperly sharing users' data in a case linked to the global Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Facebook engaged in an "abusive practice" by allowing data from 443,000 users in Brazil to be unduly available to developers of the This is Your Digital Life application, according to the Ministry of Justice on Monday.

That application - a psychological survey - collected personal data from millions of Facebook users worldwide.

The data was then transferred to British consultancy Cambridge Analytica and used without consent in political campaigns, such as the one that gave Brexit a victory in Britain and President Donald Trump a win in the 2016 US presidential election.

The Brazilian authorities began investigating after reports that users in the country could also have been victims of data misuse.

Facebook estimated in 2018 that data from 87 million users was shared with Cambridge Analytica.

But, on Monday, it said in a statement that there was "no evidence user data in Brazil was transferred to Cambridge Analytica" and that it was looking at its legal options in this case.

"We have made changes to our platform and restricted the information accessible to app developers," a Facebook spokesman said.

Brazil's Ministry of Justice maintains that Facebook did not adequately inform its users "about the consequences of the default privacy settings", especially in relation to the data of "friends and friends of friends".


Facebook has 10 days to appeal against the decision and one month to pay the fine, according to the Brazilian government.

In July, regulators in the United States imposed a record US$5 billion fine on Facebook for not protecting the personal data of its users.

Britain and Italy are among countries that also fined Facebook in connection with the Cambridge Analytica scandal.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 01, 2020, with the headline 'Brazil fines Facebook for improper data sharing'. Subscribe