Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Facebook Is Facing Its First Fine Over the Cambridge Analytica Privacy Scandal

Facebook Is Facing Its First Fine Over the Cambridge Analytica Privacy Scandal

"Facebook has failed to provide the kinds of protections they're required to do under data protection laws", Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said on a call with reporters.

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).

"The alleged breaches surround the circumstances in which a third party, Cambridge Analytica, gained unauthorised access to users' profiles and information", the company said. In an accompanying report, Elizabeth Denham, the United Kingdom information commissioner, expressed unease with the "significant shortfall in transparency" from tech companies, political parties and others that harness sensitive bits of information online. The British agency said Facebook may have had a "missed opportunity" in 2014 to have thwarted Kogan's activities on the site.

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Cambridge Analytica used data from millions of Facebook accounts to help Donald Trump's 2016 presidential election campaign. If the incidents had occurred more recently - such as after the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) had taken effect - the company could have faced fines of £17 million, or even £1.4 billion (around 4% of its global turnover).

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

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. "But this can not be at the expense of transparency, fairness and compliance with the law", she said in a statement.

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

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

OAIC is conducting its own investigation into whether Facebook breached the Privacy Act, which obligates organisations to ensure customers are notified about the collection and handling of their personal information. 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.

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The U.K.'s probe adopted a wide lens, focusing not only on Facebook but the ecosystem of players - totaling 172 organizations and 285 individuals - involved in the collection and sale of data about web users for political purposes.

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