Facebook slapped with six-figure fine in United Kingdom over Cambridge Analytica breach

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Facebook is to be hit with the maximum £500,000 ($663,000) fine over data protection breaches related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The penalty is a pittance for Facebook, which generates that sum roughly every seven minutes, based on its first-quarter revenue of $11.97 billion. "We have been working closely with the ICO in their investigation".

Damian Collins, chair of the DCMS committee said: "Given that the ICO is saying that Facebook broke the law, it is essential that we now know which other apps that ran on their platform may have scraped data in a similar way".

The Information Commissioner's Office announced the fine as it revealed it was preparing a criminal prosecution against Cambridge Analytica's parent company, SCL Elections Ltd.

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The amount is the maximum allowed under the Data Protection Act 1998, but is pocket change for a company valued previous year at around $590bn (£445bn).

Facebook faces several other investigations, including others in Europe, a probe by the US Federal Trade Commission and, reportedly, several others at federal agencies such as the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

A Facebook spokeswoman said the company was cooperating fully with an investigation by Australia's privacy commissioner.

The revelations that data belonging to as many as 87 million Facebook users and their friends may have been misused is a "game changer" in the world of data protection, Denham said.

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Cambridge Analytica, a London firm financed by wealthy US Republican donors, worked for the 2016 Trump campaign and for a while employed Steve Bannon, the CEO of US President Donald Trump's campaign and later a White House adviser. Last year, antitrust regulators in the European Union slapped Facebook with a $122 million fine.

Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner, wrote in her accompanying report that Facebook should have done more to explain to its users why they were targeted for specific political advertisements or messaging. The ICO is also probing another pro-Brexit campaign group, Vote Leave, for sending personal data on United Kingdom citizens to a Cambridge Analytica-like (and possible Cambridge Analytica-affiliated) company called AggregateIQ, which Facebook has kicked off its platform.

She added: "Trust and confidence in the integrity of our democratic processes risk being disrupted because the average voter has little idea of what is going on behind the scenes".

Among the main areas of concern are that parties buy up marketing lists and lifestyle information from data brokers without proper due diligence and fail to check consents when using third party data analytics companies.

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It said it would work with Slattery Lawyers to investigate whether the claim for compensation was possible.

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