Facebook faces maximum fine in British Cambridge Analytica inquiry

Blanche Robertson
July 11, 2018

It's also about half of what the Spanish data protection authorities a year ago extracted from to the firm for privacy failings.

The U.K.'s Information Commissioner's Office, an independent data watchdog, intends to slap Facebook with a 500,000-pound fine, or about $660,000, for two breaches of the country's Data Protection Act.

The London-based firm worked for Donald Trump's campaign team in the 2016 USA presidential election and used the data to build a software program to predict and try to influence votes.

The EU in May launched strict new data-protection laws allowing regulators to fine companies up to €20 million (US$24 million) or four percent of annual global turnover.

The fines are based on laws governing the 2013-2014 period when the breaches occurred.

The total is now estimated at 87 million, the ICO said.

"The complaint seeks financial recompense for the unauthorised access to and use of their personal data", IMF Bentham said in a statement.

Wednesday's report gives details of some of the organisations and individuals under investigation, as well as enforcement actions so far. The office finds that Facebook lacked the privacy protections necessary to catch Cambridge Analytica before it was too late.

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

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So British political parties also got a warning in Wednesday's broadside, regarding the way they buy marketing lists and "lifestyle information" from data brokers, in order to find out how to better influence people.

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.

Denham also called for the government to introduce a statutory code of practice for the use of personal data in political campaigns, adding that "this can not be at the expense of transparency, fairness and compliance with the law". "People can not have control over their own data if they don't know or understand how it is being used".

Finally, in a hugely optimistic bid, Denham has called for an "ethical pause" to allow lawmakers, regulators, political parties, online platforms and the public "to reflect on their responsibilities in the era of big data before there is a greater expansion in the use of new technologies".

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

"The ICO's investigation concluded that Facebook contravened the law by failing to safeguard people's information", the organisation said in a statement.

Mail.Ru told CNN it had not been contacted by Facebook about its investigation into the misuse of user data.

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