Watchdog urges record £500000 fine for Facebook over Cambridge Analytica data scandal

Watchdog urges record £500000 fine for Facebook over Cambridge Analytica data scandal

The chairman of the U.K. Parliament's media committee says the government office that investigated the Cambridge Analytica scandal has fined Facebook 500,000 pounds ($663,000) for failing to safeguard users' data.

Facebook's chief privacy officer, Erin Egan, said in a statement that the company is reviewing the ICO report and will respond soon. The ICO said it was providing the interim report to help that inquiry.

While the ICO hasn't exactly ruined the firm's finances with this penalty, it represents the latest in a series of consequences for Facebook following the Cambridge Analytica scandal that erupted this year. The tech giant is accused of not properly protecting user data and not sharing how people's data was harvested by others.

"We are fully cooperating with the investigation now under way by the Australian Privacy Commissioner and will review any additional evidence that is made available when the UK Office of the Information Commissioner releases their report", the spokeswoman said.

"We must change this fast as no-one should win elections using illegally obtained data", she said, adding: "We will now assess what can we do at the European Union level to make political advertising more transparent and our elections more secure". The ICO is also probing another pro-Brexit campaign group, Vote Leave, for sending personal data on United Kingdom citizens to a Cambridge Analytica-like (and possible Cambridge Analytica-affiliated) company called AggregateIQ, which Facebook has kicked off its platform.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is still investigating Facebook, and is yet to penalize the company.

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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.

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

The watchdog also plans to bring criminal charges against Cambridge Analytica's defunct parent company SCL Elections. In 2017, Facebook generated $40 billion in ad sales. The General Data Protection Regulation, more commonly called the GDPR, allowed for a maximum fine of 20 million euros or 4 percent of a company's annual global revenue from the year before, whichever is higher. 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.

Facebook's annual revenue in 2017 was almost $40 billion, translating to a much higher possible fine of $1.6 billion.

"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.

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