Facebook faces United Kingdom fine over Cambridge Analytica scandal

Lester Mason
July 11, 2018

£500,000 is the maximum allowed under the Data Protection Act 1998, which was in force when the breach occurred.

A statement from Facebooks chief privacy officer admitted that Facebook “should have done more to investigate claims about Cambridge Analytica and take action in 2015.” A 40 page report created by British regulators says that Facebook failed by allowing the parties involved with the University of Cambridge to build an app that collects data about Facebook users and their friends.

Updating on her investigation into the use of data analytics by political campaigns, Britain's Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said she meant to fine Facebook 500,000 pounds ($663,850), a small figure for a company with a market value of $590 billion, but the maximum amount allowed.

Future violations will be able to be punished much more strictly, however: Under GDPR, the EU's new data protection legislation, companies can be fined up to €20 million or 4% of their global annual turnover, whichever is higher.

The report also initiates the prosecution of SCL Elections Ltd, which is Cambridge Analytica's parent company, "for failing to properly deal with the ICO's Enforcement Notice".

In a statement issued in advance, information commissioner Elizabeth Denham warned that voters' faith in the political system was being eroded.

Facebook broke the law by failing to safeguard people's data and not being transparent about how that data could be harvested, said Ms Denham.


Facebook said apps developed by the Russian technology conglomerate Mail.Ru Group, were being looked at as part of the company's wider investigation into the misuse of Facebook user data, CNN reported.

Facebook "will get a chance to respond to the proposed penalties before the ICO releases a final decision", Bloomberg reports. "But this can not be at the expense of transparency, fairness and compliance with the law", she said in a statement. Facebook also received a minor fine of $164,000 from French regulators for failing to meet the country's data protection rules.

The penalty and resulting fine only comprise a small portion of the ICO's report, which initially was undertaken to investigate the misuse of data during the UK's European Union referendum (AKA, Brexit).

The Facebook probe is part of a wider investigation into the use of data in political campaigns, which the ICO launched a year ago, the interim results of which are out today.

"Facebook should now make the results of their internal investigations known to the ICO, our committee and other relevant investigatory authorities".

The ICO said it expects to have wrapped up these investigations by the end of October.

The British fine comes as Facebook faces a potential hefty compensation bill in Australia, where litigation funder IMF Bentham said it had lodged a complaint with regulators over the Cambridge Analytica breech - thought to affect some €300,000 users in Australia.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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