ICO hits Facebook with £500k fine promise

"We have been working closely with the ICO in their investigation of Cambridge Analytica, just as we have with authorities in the U.S. and other countries", Facebook's chief privacy officer Erin Egan added in a statement reported by the Post. £500,000 is the maximum allowed under the Data Protection Act 1998, which was in force when the breach occurred.

"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.

Facebook will be hit with its first fine over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which the political consultancy used the platform to harvest the details of 87 million people.

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As part of the Wednesday's announcement, the watchdog also announced a criminal prosecution against Cambridge Analytica's parent firm, SCL Elections, over allegations that it didn't hand over evidence related to the data misuse probe.

Facebook "will get a chance to respond to the proposed penalties before the ICO releases a final decision", Bloomberg reports.

It could be the first in a series of penalties for Facebook, political parties, data companies and academics as a result of the scandal.

Fair Vote's director, Kyle Taylor, told Business Insider that he was anxious that Facebook wouldn't face a sufficiently large penalty. The ICO said it was providing the interim report to help that inquiry.

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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 Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) continued that Facebook broke the law by failing to safeguard people's information and failing to be transparent about how people's data was harvested by others.

In Facebook's case this would amount to around US$1.6 billion (€1.4 billion).

It has also said that, while it pitched for work with campaign group Leave.EU before the Brexit referendum in Britain in 2016, it did not end up doing any work on the campaign.

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 ICO is also planning audits of the main credit reference companies and Cambridge University Psychometric Centre, and ordered Canadian data slurpers Aggregate IQ to stop processing data retained on United Kingdom citizens.

Humber said that further investigation is needed to ascertain just what happened to the scraped data and where it is now. The watchdog believes that the Cambridge Analytica's affiliate companies may still retain some data, and steps need to be taken to ensure a complete cleanup.

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