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

Leroy Wright
July 12, 2018

When you compare it to the fine imposed by the U.K. Information Commissioner for Facebook data leak of as many as 87 million users, you won't notice much difference.

The UK Information Commissioner's Office is threatening the company with the maximum penalty allowed, it said on Wednesday when issuing its first findings in a probe that looked at some 30 organisations, including social-media platforms such as Facebook.

"As we have said before, we should have done more to investigate claims about Cambridge Analytica and take action in 2015", Erin Egan, Facebook's chief privacy officer, said in a statement.

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).

Facebook has said it will be reviewing the report and responding to the ICO soon.

"We have been working closely with the Information Commissioner's Office in their investigation of Cambridge Analytica, just as we have with authorities in the USA and other countries", he added.

As such, the "investigation into data analytics in political campaigns" has resulted in a number of other regulatory actions and recommendations.

Cambridge Analytica, which was hired by Donald Trump in 2016, has denied its work on the USA president's successful election campaign made use of data.

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Cambridge Analytica has maintained that none of the data obtained without the knowledge of Facebook users was shared with or used for the purposes of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

International Monetary Fund said in a statement late Tuesday it was seeking "compensation for Facebook users arising from Facebook's alleged breaches of the Australian Privacy Principles contained in the Privacy Act 1988".

The Leave.EU campaign, which pushed for the U.K.to leave the EU in the Brexit referendum, is also being investigated for exploiting personal data that people had given to a company for insurance purposes.

The watchdog also plans to bring criminal charges against Cambridge Analytica's defunct parent company SCL Elections.

The decision was welcomed by former Cambridge Analytica employee and whistleblower Christopher Wylie.

In Facebook's case this would amount to around US$1.6 billion (€1.4 billion). But not all the data may have been deleted, according to some reports.

Based on 2017 revenues of just over $40bn, Facebook would earn £500,000 in just over eight-and-a-half minutes. "We have been working closely with the ICO in their investigation".

"Everyone from social media firms, political parties and data brokers seem to be taking advantage of new technologies and micro-targeting techniques with very limited transparency and responsibility towards voters", she said. Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin wrote this story.

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