Italian Court fines Facebook €5m for breaching consumer contract and recognises that personal data is a proprietary economic asset to be protected

The Italian Regional Administrative Court of Lazio has delivered an historical ruling: our data has value.

On Friday 10th January, The Regional Administrative Court of Lazio confirmed a 5 million euro fine that Italian Antitrust Authority had imposed on Facebook in December 2018 for unfair commercial practices (see the press release). It had falsely advertised that its services would always be free of charge while they have consistently used consumer data for commercial purposes. The judge stated that the US social media giant has consistently concealed the monetary value of personal data by providing users with generic, incomplete and non-transparent information (specifically about the use of data for commercial purposes) when registering on the platform.

This groundbreaking decision has, for the first time, recognised that personal data has a commercial value and may, therefore, be vulnerable to being exploited economically. The ruling, therefore, adjudges that consumer data is proprietary and as such must be acknowledged and protected for its central role in the data economy.

The court ruling has confirmed that:

  1. Consumers have a fundamental right to privacy
  2. That data is an economic asset
  3. Activities involving data are not only subject to GDPR

The decision confirmed the position by Euroconsumers (Altroconsumo, Test Achats/Test Aankoop, DecoProteste, OCU) as was clearly expressed in Euroconsumers’ ​ “My Data is Mine” manifesto.

Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Euroconsumers has held Facebook to account, sending the social network organisation a formal warning with a set of clear demands on behalf of more than one and a half million consumers it represents. Although Facebook does admit that “personal user information has been improperly shared”, it is clear that Facebook has no intention of compensating consumers for the misuse of their data. Consumers will merely receive an apology!

That is why Euroconsumers began a class action in Belgium, Italy, Spain and Portugal against Facebook, seeking compensation of at least €200 for all Facebook users for the misuse of their data. So far, almost 250, 000 consumers registered to join our efforts.

It should be clear that the data Facebook uses belongs to consumers, and only to consumers, Consumers therefore must, at all times, have complete control over their data, understand  exactly for what purpose it is being used, and should receive  fair compensation for  the value created by the companies using their data. When consumers are cheated, they must be compensated. It is as simple as that! #MyDataIsMine #NotYourPuppet.