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Facebook was fined $70 million for 'wilful' non-compliance with the UK's data protection regulator


For failing to heed warnings and breaking the rules, Facebook (FB) was fined $70 million by the United Kingdom's competition regulator for a second time.


During an investigation into Facebook's acquisition of online database Giphy, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) stated on Wednesday that the social media giant "consciously" withheld information that was required.


An "initial enforcement order" related to the takeover was issued by the regulatory authority in June 2020, ordering the companies to continue competing against one another while any integration efforts were put on hold while the investigation was underway.


Facebook was required to provide the regulator with regular updates on its compliance with the terms of the agreement. Despite repeated warnings, the CMA stated on Wednesday that the tech giant "significantly limited the scope of those updates." The regulator came to the conclusion that Facebook's "willful failure to comply" was a conscious decision.


A company has intentionally violated an initial enforcement order, according to the CMA, by "failing to report all required information," which is the first time this has happened. 155 times the previous record for this type of violation, the fine of £50.5 million ($70 million) was assessed in this case.


According to a statement from the Competition and Markets Authority, "We warned Facebook that its refusal to provide us with critical information was a violation of the order, but Facebook continued to flout its legal obligations even after losing its appeal in two separate courts."


According to Bamford, "this should serve as a cautionary tale to any business that believes it is above the law."


Following the decision, Facebook issued a statement saying that it "vehemently" disagreed with the regulator's "unfair decision to penalize Facebook for taking a best effort compliance approach."


"In light of the CMA's decision, we will carefully consider our options," the company stated further.


Additionally, Facebook was fined £500,000 ($690,000) by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) for changing its chief compliance officer on two separate occasions without first obtaining the agency's consent. The investigation into Facebook's acquisition of Giphy is still ongoing, and no decision has been reached by the regulator.


The UK and European Union antitrust regulators announced in June that they were conducting antitrust investigations into Facebook's data usage.


US lawmakers are also putting pressure on the company after a whistleblower revealed that the company has repeatedly prioritized profits over the public good on a number of different occasions.


According to Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager who testified before US lawmakers earlier this month, the company was aware that it was serving harmful, eating disorder-related content to young users and that the use of Facebook by authoritarian leaders could pose a national security threat to the United States.

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