Ireland’s data watchdog has opened a probe with Facebook Inc. about a security breach announced last week that affected as many as 50 million accounts in line with violation of the European Union’s beefed up privacy rules.
Ireland’s data protection authority on Wednesday said it has started investigating whether Facebook had “appropriate technical and organizational measures” in place to protect its users’ personal data. While not the first European probe into Facebook, it’s the first under the EU’s new data rules, which could lead to fines of as much as 4 percent of a company’s annual sales.
The breach adds more pressure to the U.S. social media giant, which is still reeling from the separate scandal this year stemming from the revelation that data belonging to as many as 87 million Facebook users and their friends may have been misused by a political consultancy that helped get President Donald Trump elected.
Regulators under the old regime lacked the teeth they needed to levy fines that could really bite. The U.K. watchdog, which has been probing the scandal, said in July Facebook could face a fine of as 500,000 pounds ($647,000) over its failures to prevent a breach. That’s the maximum penalty the regulator could levy before, and this still applies for any violations that happened before GDPR took effect on May 25.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s chairman has signaled that his staff is also looking into the recent breach.