On 21st January 2020, Italy’s competition watchdog (ICA) started non-compliance proceedings against Facebook, for failure to comply with ICA’s decision of 29th November 2018.
In this previous decision, ICA had assessed that FB was not adequately informing consumers registering on the social network about the collection and use of their personal data for commercial purposes and, more generally, about the remunerative aims underlying the supply of the service, while at the same time emphasizing that it is provided free of charge. ICA said that FB "carried out an unfair commercial practice, inducing users to make a transactional decision they would have not otherwise made."
ICA assessed that, regardless of the lack of a monetary consideration, users’ personal data acquire the economic value typical of a commercial transaction, as they are used to profile FB’s users for commercial and marketing purposes. TAR Lazio (the competent administrative Court), confirmed ICA’s decision on this point.
In addition to imposing a 5 mln. euros fine on FB, ICA prohibited further implementation of this practice and required the company to publish an amending statement on the homepage of its website, the FB App and the personal page of each Italian registered user.
However, although FB removed the “it’s free and always will be!” tag line from the home page, consumers willing to register on the social network are still not adequately and immediately informed about the collection and use of their personal data for commercial purposes.
It also appears that FB did not publish the amending statement.
The non-compliance proceedings could lead to ICA imposing a fine up to 5 mln euros on FB.