The EU could hit Facebook with billions in fines over privacy violations

Facebook may be facing some hefty fines from the EU.

The European Union is reportedly nearing the end of its investigation into some of the cases it opened against Facebook under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR, the Wall Street Journal reports.

In total, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, which is leading the investigation since Facebook’s HQ in Europe is in Dublin, has 11 cases against the social network.

Some of those cases have been finalized to a point where the Commission has passed along its final investigative reports. Decisions, along with any proposed fines and sanctions, are expected to be near completion by the end of September.

If you’re not familiar, GDPR is a set of data privacy laws in the EU designed to give EU citizens more control over their personal data and how it is collected, stored, and used.

The law went into effect on May 25, 2018. We wrote a detailed primer on the law that can help explain things.

Even though Facebook is based in the United States, GDPR laws apply to the company since its service is used by individuals in the European Union.

The cases against Facebook are among the first GDPR cases to involve companies based in the United States. The results of the case could ultimately have an impact on privacy laws and regulations in the United States as well.

Under the GDPR, fines for violations can be up to 4% of a company’s worldwide revenue for the preceding year. In the case of Facebook, that could reach to $2.23 billion.

The EU didn’t provide much information about which cases it was nearing completion on. However, it did name one case, which involves whether Facebook gives WhatsApp users sufficient information about what it shares with Facebook proper.

In July, Facebook settled with the Federal Trade Commission in the United States over privacy violations, a settlement that required the social network to pay $5 billion, the largest fine in FTC history.

While that fine is a lot of money, to put things in perspective, Facebook earned $16.6 billion in revenue during the first three months of 2019.

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