Facebook fined Sh66.8 million over Cambridge data harvesting row
Facebook fined Sh66.8 million over Cambridge data harvesting row
Image Credit Alexandra Popova Shutterstock
11 July, 2018, 17:27
Facebook is expected to receive Britain's maximum possible fine for allowing Cambridge Analytica to improperly access user data, its first penalty related to the leak of millions of users' personal information.
Social media giant Facebook was dealt a blow this morning when a prominent United Kingdom watchdog said it planned to impose a maximum fine on the company for two breaches of the Data Protection Act.
The scandal took place before new European Union data protection laws that allow much larger fines came into force.
Facebook has said it will be reviewing the report and responding to the ICO soon.
Facebook faces a £500,000 ($665,000) fine from the UK's data protection watchdog, the ICO, for failing to protect netizens' info nor tell them how their data would be harvested by apps. The U.K.'s investigation found "evidence that copies of the data/parts of it also seem to have been shared with other parties and on other systems beyond", which "potentially brings into question the accuracy" of Cambridge Analytica's assertion that it wiped the data from its stores.
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).
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A Facebook spokeswoman said the company was cooperating fully with an investigation by Australia's privacy commissioner.
It said it was investigating both leave and remain campaigners in the referendum, and that it had issued an enforcement notice for AIQ, a data firm that worked for official Brexit campaign Vote Leave, to stop processing retained data from British citizens.
The London-based firm worked for Donald Trump's campaign team in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and used the data to build a software program to predict and try to influence votes.
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.
The Facebook probe is part of a wider investigation into the use of data in political campaigns, which the ICO launched past year, the interim results of which are out today. "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", said the information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham. The office finds that Facebook lacked the privacy protections necessary to catch Cambridge Analytica before it was too late. Among the issues they are still probing is an assertion by Cambridge Analytica that it had deleted the data, after the social media giant requested it in 2015.
ICO, which does not normally publish its findings, said it would give the public another update on its investigation in October.
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