France’s independent privacy watchdog fined Facebook on Tuesday for breaching French privacy laws by tracking and using the personal data of 33 million users, as well as non-users who browse the internet.
The National Commission on Informatics and Liberties imposed sanctions of 150,000 euros ($166,000) on the social networking company for failing to comply with French data protection laws after a formal warning last year.
The commission said in a statement that Facebook Inc. and Facebook Ireland carry out a “massive compilation of personal data” for targeted advertising “without a legal base.” It says users have no means of objecting.
The watchdog has accused Facebook of collecting data about account holders’ “political or religious opinions,” “sexual orientation” and other personal characteristics without informing them.
In response to the announcement, Facebook said in a statement it has taken steps in recent years to address privacy concerns and “simplified our policies further to help people understand how we use information to make Facebook better.”
The company said its actions included setting up a team dedicated to protecting confidentiality and providing users with tools to safeguard their information.
It insisted that “putting people in control of their privacy is at the heart of everything we do.” The statement did not address payment of the fine.
“We take note of the decision … with which we respectfully disagree,” the company said, adding that it remained “open” to continue working with the French privacy watchdog.