back to article Zuck it up: Facebook hit with triple whammy of legal probes, action in Canada, US, Ireland

Here's a triple Thursday whammy: Facebook has been accused of breaking Canada’s privacy laws, and is being investigated in the US and Ireland for seemingly mishandling people's private data. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) launched an official inquiry into Zuck’s empire in March 2018 following the …

  1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Arguing with a regulator

    Arguing with a regulator is an awful like arguing with Swambo, you always lose the argument. Also Suckerberg has alienated too many powerful people with his antics and they will come for their pound of flesh.

    1. Khaptain

      Re: Arguing with a regulator

      Lets keep it metric and hope that they manage to get the whole whopping 60kilos of the scrawny slimeweasel....

      It's not a witchhunt when there is no magic involved... FB breaks all the rules and just keeps on going, I would be happy to send even a modicum of logic and good sense applied to this scenario and force the little bastard to pay for his crimes. He's a thief, he knows it and believes that he is untouchable...it's time that he learns that he will get caught up in his own web if deciept.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Arguing with a regulator

        "FB breaks all the rules and just keeps on going"

        FB is merely the highest profile site to do so.

        At this stage just about ALL of them are non-compliant with GDPR and privacy laws and have been getting away with thumbing their nose at such things for the best part of two decades,

        You can choose two tactics: Try to keep your data out of their mitts (almost impossible) or pollute their feed by deliberately inserting as much irrelevant shit as you can find. I find the "choking them with a firehose" approach more fun and if everyone followed suit their data centres would fall over.

        1. Drew Scriver

          Re: Arguing with a regulator

          Ironically, if I'm not mistaken that's illegal in the USA.

          Having said that, I have always suspected that companies share data beyond what is expected and I hardly ever supply my real date of birth.

          In fact, I supply a date that makes me close to an octogenarian. Didn't take long before I started getting membership invitations for the AARP (org for retired people in the USA) and discount coupons for incontinence products in the mail...

    2. NATTtrash

      Re: Arguing with a regulator

      True. But what is worrying is not Facebook is doing what it's doing. FFS, it's a company, so it will push it when it can to make more money.

      What is really, really concerning are the allegedly intelligent members of our species who still go to bed with them to start with. And then give them everything, including the kitchen sink. Only because they are told "It's convenient!", "Don't miss out!", "Everybody is doing it!", "We do it all for free because we're boy scouts and want to improve our world!" and "Of course you can trust us!".

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dutifully ignore that arthritis

    Continue withdrawing, replanting, and briefly twisting the knife-- until it stops apologizing

    1. BebopWeBop

      Re: Dutifully ignore that arthritis

      why briefly?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The sooner you stop, the sooner you can do it all again.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "The sooner you stop, the sooner you can do it all again."

          Bingo!! I wish this was more recognized this with all these billion dollar companies.

          Reminds me of an article I read in Readers Digest in the 80's about deep sea waste dumping. Exxon continued to break the law and just pay the fine for doing so, but apparently 1 month they forgot to pay the fine so they had to stop dumping, but just until they paid the fine so they could continue breaking the law.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            That's... the other, darker side. I mean only that as long as you want to keep stabbing something, you have to keep taking the knife back, and that's an acceptable trade-off. Well, OK, you could also just bring lots of knives. Lots of unique markets and lots of offended governments could mean death by a thousand makeshift drill bits, and I wouldn't care. Hurry up and make an example of it.

          2. Robert Helpmann??
            Childcatcher

            Exxon continued to break the law and just pay the fine for doing so, but apparently 1 month they forgot to pay the fine so they had to stop dumping, but just until they paid the fine so they could continue breaking the law.

            If only regulators were empowered to add a 0 to the fine for each subsequent offense.

            "You bad company! You did something wrong and must now pay a fine! Pay $1,000.00 and be warned not to do it again."

            "You bad company! You did something wrong and must now pay a fine! Pay $10,000.00 and be warned not to do it again."

            "You bad company! You did something wrong and must now pay a fine! Pay $100,000.00 and be warned not to do it again."

            ... and so on. How many iterations of this would it take to shut repeat offenders down? Facebook is in the $100 billion bracket, so 10 rounds ought to do it. If we had this in place before, the problem would already have been solved. Oh well, it's never too late...

            1. werdsmith Silver badge

              The scaled down example is the LEA issuing a £60 fine to parents who take their kids out of school for unauthorised absence. They happily pay up and laugh at it because they've had a family holiday for £2K less by going off peak.

              1. jmch Silver badge
                Facepalm

                "the LEA issuing a £60 fine to parents who take their kids out of school for unauthorised absence"

                Incidentally, this is a bit of BS in itself. Kids don't learn just be sitting in a classroom listening to some old bore drone on, reading, doing homework etc. They learn doing real-life activities, and every kid learns at their own pace and in their own way, so trying to shoehorn them all to the same curriculum with all of them having to learn exactly the same things at exactly the same time is a terrible arrangement.

                If a kids' schooling is damaged by taking them out of school for a week or two, it's not a problem with the kid, it's a problem with the schooling. And unfortunately in some cases schools and related staff are the last to realise that schooling < education

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              "If only regulators were empowered to add a 0 to the fine for each subsequent offense."

              If you look at the laws you'll usually find that each _instance_ of data breach (as in per individual) can be written up as an offence, instead of them being collectivised.

              Statutory per incident fines have a tendency to snowball to attention-getting numbers in a short period of time. The fact that regulators tend to avoid this says more about the regulators' being pushed hard NOT to prosecute by political forces than anything else (ie: regulatory capture)

  3. don't you hate it when you lose your account

    was not available for comment.

    Why? Was F&%@book down again?

  4. Chris G Silver badge

    Wanted ad

    "Facebook, which has been hiring loads of digital privacy experts recently"

    Perhaps they should consider hiring someone who knows what morals and ethics are?

    When you consider the pace at which successive wrongdoings are coming to light, it makes you wonder what more is to come.

    1. Rudolph Hucker the Third
      Joke

      Re: Wanted ad

      "Perhaps they should consider hiring someone who knows what morals and ethics are?"

      I'm told that Nick Clegg, the former UK deputy prime minister, is a person of total integrity. Now that Facebook has hired him as its head of global policy and communications we can be sure that he'll make sure Facebook sticks to its promise (just as he did).

      Vince Cable, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, told the Guardian he intended to write a letter to Clegg: “I will be urging him to make sure Facebook co-operates with attempts to make sure they pay their fair share of taxes,”

      1. BebopWeBop
        Facepalm

        Re: Wanted ad

        That is the problem about 'being told' you do need toconsider who is doing the telling.....

      2. Rob Gr

        Re: Wanted ad

        "I'm told that Nick Clegg, the former UK deputy prime minister, is a person of total integrity."

        Now I have to clean coffee from my keyboard again!

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Wanted ad

      morals and ethics are?

      Yeah - they are the mushrooms that you find in the county above and to the right of London..

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Facebook, [..] claimed it had cooperated [..] and was in negotiations to settle the matter"

    Yeah, we all know how FaceBook negociates : it listens to the litany of damning evidence, then it says something to the effect of "Uh-huh, um, we'll see what we can do about that". Then it returns to its lair to laugh maniacally before instructing its programmers to find more ways to track everyone and everything.

    What should happen is that all of its servers and datacenters should be cut off from the Internet until it can prove that it has solved the issues.

    That would focus its attention.

    1. Rich 2

      Re: "Facebook, [..] claimed it had cooperated [..] and was in negotiations to settle the matter"

      Completely agree - they should be shut down immediately until they can comply with the law and common decency. This endless stream of litigation just ends in years of argument and finally a fine which amounts to a fraction of the interest Faecesbook gets from its enormous wealth. It's pointless

    2. bpfh Silver badge

      Re: "Facebook, [..] claimed it had cooperated [..] and was in negotiations to settle the matter"

      Oooh go after the carriers instead...

  6. Wellyboot Silver badge

    digital privacy experts

    >>>Facebook, which has been hiring loads of digital privacy experts recently to fight its corner<<<

    'Privacy experts' in the loosest sense, aka. Lawyers

  7. Mike Lewis

    Illegal operation

    Move fast, break laws.

  8. ThatOne Silver badge
    Devil

    Facebook is an average guy who managed to become a billionaire overnight, and to do so he obviously walked on many heads and broke the law as often as he could afford to, because that's how you become a billionaire overnight. (Certainly not through strict legality and scrupulous ethics!...)

    What are the lessons to be learned here? That intelligent crime does pay quite well, actually... What does it matter if occasionally you need to put a little money aside for "lobbying" whoever necessary. It's a fully sustainable business system, since you make lots of money, with which you can buy yourself out of anything unpleasant to make even more money, so you can buy yourself out of even more unpleasant things. And so on.

    My point is that legal probes and stuff like that won't achieve anything, they are just Facebook's cost of making business. Facebook will direct some of its millions towards the right people and that's that, because what would be the alternative for them? Saying "oh, we're sorry. Let's close our shop and go serve burgers somewhere"?

    1. The Nazz

      Proceeds of crime.

      Rather than Facebook acting merely disruptive or immorally, the conversation now is that they are acting ILLEGALLY. In multiple ways.

      Thus, it can be simply said that their Executives are living on the proceeds of crime. As are the recipients of all that "lobbying" money. Aren't there laws against that?

      Ordinary folks are arrested first, probably charged and bailed. Do the same to Zuckerberg and his mates, erm colleagues.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "they are just Facebook's cost of making business."

      ...and not forgetting that "lobbying" and "campaign donations" are just legalised bribery.

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        The profits are the proceeds of the crime.

        If we prosecute a thief, we don't leave them with all the stolen goods and then fine them, we confiscate everything (as far as it can be traced) and THEN consider the punishment.

        The appropriate action in the case of a corporation with a serious fine profiting from illegal action is therefore first to sequester the profits (or part of them, if it is determined that some income was earned legally), and then fine them for the offence.

        Since they are profits, not income or operating capital, this would not hurt the business or its employees - just the owners and shareholders.

        This would stop corporations from simply considering fines as a cost of doing business, and empower shareholders to sack executives whose actions destroyed shareholder value.

  9. PTW
    Stop

    I can't understand the fuss over CA

    The issue is FB [and subsidiaries], LinkedIn, etc. Hoover up peoples contact lists at will, with some absurd EULA/TaC line like "you agree that you have obtained consent of those in your contacts list to share their data" in 2pt text.

    To my mind THAT is a far more serious issue, and needs to be reversed ASAP.

    1. Martin Gregorie

      Re: I can't understand the fuss over CA

      In that case, let me explain:

      FB is just a money-grubbing business that, after some time, discovered that other biznizzes would pay loadsa dosh for what their users said about themselves and their friends. At that point it went "Wowie Zowie, lookit at all that lovely personal data: whats yours is mine and I can SELL it!". IOW, not a moral or ethic in sight, but how does that really differ except in degree from a lot of other large US corporations, e.g. IBM, Oracle and now Boeing or, for that matter, the Carnegies and Rockefellers in the late 1800s?

      CA, on the other hand, seems to have deliberately set out to subvert democratic processes in a number of countries. That seems to have been one of their aims even before they got access to FB's personal data mine. The availability of this data, hoovered up under false pretenses from FB by ethically suspect academics and then sold on to CA was just an unexpected windfall: they'd have got on with their subversive activities, etc. with or without it.

      So, what CA was up to was, IMO anyway, a much more serious crime than anything done by FB.

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: I can't understand the fuss over CA

        That would be so, but CA was chasing a limited number of contracts with its aims. FB is happy to be a supplier of the raw materials to any CA-alike that comes along.

        We are the victims

        Politicians and corporates are the addicts

        CA is a dealer

        FB is source supplier.

        There is culpability all the way through, including our willingness to believe politicians, but FB is no less guilty than CA.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: I can't understand the fuss over CA

      Time to define each and every holder of a contacts list as a data controller under GPDR.

      Then each time FB slurps out their contact list without explicit permission from the names in the contact list, the FB user along with FB is answerable to the ICO.

      Because each and every FB user with their lame excuses about why they need it is complicit with Faecebook by way of them supporting it. Making them face up to their part in FB crimes should focus their minds.

      1. iowe_iowe

        Re: I can't understand the fuss over CA

        "Faecebook" - LOL

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jail time?

    Wouldn't that be awesome, if zucker spent some time in jail.... this thought just made my day.

    1. GnuTzu
      Unhappy

      Re: Jail time?

      Sorry to bust your bubble, and I do sympathize, but that's why such companies incorporate. Is the company that gets fined 10% of what they profited, and they then just consider that pathetic slap on the wrist the cost of doing business. That's how it goes for the Plutonomy in our Duocractic Plutocracy. Yes, it's as if the Duocracy was created to hide the Plutocratic control that renders your supposedly Democratic vote meaningless. Remember the Duocracy is a False Dichotomy.

      1. GnuTzu
        Big Brother

        Re: Jail time?

        Jeesh, I just found out that there's a Wikipedia page for Plutonomy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plutonomy

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Jail time?

          I just took a look at that page. not much on it, but the idea of a handful of rich people basically driving everything is like a feudal system. Lassaiz Faire capitalism, on the other hand, allows for more people joining the "the rich" club, and as such, effectively lowers the power of any one member of "the rich". No _WONDER_ the 'Plutonomists' don't want more people in "the rich boy" club, by getting gumminteers to legislate "tax the rich" which only taxes those trying to BECOME the rich... [but I digress, and any more goes way off topic]

          Assuming Zuck is a 'new Plutonomist' he (and his company) is behaving exactly like you'd expect.

          There are better ways to become wealthy, other than scamming and skirting (or outright violating) the laws, like providing an honest product or service that people want to pay for, and then doing that with as many happy customers as you can. Getting a fast billion THAT way is actually a good thing, ya know?

  11. Tromos
    Flame

    Contact lists

    They should have explicit permission from everyone on the list before hoovering it up. Can't be done? Lay off the contact lists in that case.

    I chose to never use Facebook, Twitter and various other wastes of time. I'm fed up with my data being used without permission because I happen to be in other peoples contact lists.

    Every country should fine them 10% of global turnover individually and that might slow them down a bit.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Contact lists

      Every country should fine them 10% of global turnover individually and that might slow them down a bit.

      In the case of Facebook, there shouldn't be such a thing as overkill, but 206 times 10% of global turnover comes rather close. I suggest making it 25% to make sure.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Have no fear Zuckerberg, Calamity Cleggers is here to save the day.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Only to be expected

    Facaebook is just Shite.

    Avoid or Sue that is the question?

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: Only to be expected

      you forgot Nuke from orbit

  14. the Jim bloke Silver badge
    Meh

    But on the bright side for Facebook

    There are various elections and other political shenanigans coming up, so they just continue selling out the public to the politicians (any and all orientation) and ignore the courts...

    They may need to drop their prices a bit though, just to show how seriously they take the issues.

  15. Trollslayer
    Thumb Down

    Over in America

    Where exactly? Brazil or Argentina?

  16. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Flapbook's in a bit of a flap. Oh dear.

    Don't worry, it'll all be fixed with some money...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    What a cock.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      What a cock.

      Please be a bit less insulting to male fowl.

      1. TimMaher Silver badge

        Male fowl

        I think @livin just meant a “foul male”.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Praying I'm Wrong. . .

    MZ's stock has just kept on falling among Reg Readers, with scarcely a soul left commenting or voting here having a good word for him or his vile operation.

    The comments on this article alone are a wide ranging guide to what a paradigm of corruption and decay the whole F-Z operation and all its slimey tendrils is. And yet it goes on, and on.

    No matter how "severe" the "punishments" doled out are, there is just about 0% chance that MZ will end up living anything other than a life of opulence and self-indulgence.

    Though I'd love to be proven wrong. . . .

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Praying I'm Wrong. . .

      No matter how "severe" the "punishments" doled out are, there is just about 0% chance that MZ will end up living anything other than a life of opulence and self-indulgence.

      Though I'd love to be proven wrong. . . .

      Personally, I estimate that chance as one in a million ;)

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: Praying I'm Wrong. . .

        I don't much care how much he profits from it. That's a small problem in the scheme of things.

        I just want him to stop.

        Along with anyone else who thinks profits are more important than people.

        Perhaps the basic requirement that the company's first responsibility is to its shareholders is the problem. It's first responsibility needs to be to society.

  19. Aynon Yuser

    Faeceburg can afford the fines. He has the most punchable face of all. Smug little sh¡T.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Addendum

    "You will notice that, despite warning about the evil and insecure nature of Facebook/Instagram/whatever, we continue to provide easy to find and obviously branded tracking links from every single page in our site (yes, even on the 404 page) to all of these platforms.

    So please understand that our stance against them is more on the 'verbiage' scale than on the 'action' scale. We don't quite dare remove the buttons, in the same way that we don't quite dare start a subscription model, even as we moan about ad-blockers. Thank-you for your understanding."

  21. Mr Dogshit

    Go Canucks!

  22. Flak
    Mushroom

    Supranational =/ untouchable

    Facebook probably considers itself too big to bother about individual countries and their laws.

    Perhaps the approach to bring down Al Capone should be used here and rather than aggregating up all of the offences (like one count of breaching data protection laws for 1.5 million people whose contact lists have been stolen), there should be 1.5 million counts of breaching data protection for each of those individuals. This would deal with the criminal charges. The threat of prison should be real - fines are not enough when you are sitting on a pile of cash that reaches to the moon.

    Add to that a class action suit for civil damages on behalf of each of those people. I am sure a sympathetic judge or jury will award punitive damages in addition to actual damages.

    Perhaps that will drive change in behaviour...

  23. eldakka Silver badge

    “It is untenable that organizations are allowed to reject my office’s legal findings as mere opinions,” said Therrien.

    Unless that legal opinion is issued by a court of law as a judicial finding accompanied by an order from that court, isn't that literally what it is, a "mere opinion"?

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