Friday, 21 September, 2018

Facebook faces first fine over Cambridge Analytica scandal

Patty Aguilar | 11 July, 2018, 10:26

Facebook could be fined 500,000 pounds ($894,000) by Britain's privacy regulator after the social-network giant failed to prevent key user data falling into the hands of a political consultancy that helped get President Donald Trump elected.

The penalty from the United Kingdom data watchdog, called the Information Commissioner's Office, could change as the agency discusses the matter further with Facebook.

Updating on her investigation into the use of data analytics by political campaigns, Britain's Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said she meant to fine Facebook 500,000 pounds ($663,850), a small figure for a company with a market value of $590 billion, but the maximum amount allowed. "But this can not be at the expense of transparency, fairness and compliance with the law", ICO's information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, said in a statement.

Facebook admitted in April that as many as 87 million people could have had their data shared with Cambridge Analytica, the now-defunct data firm used by the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

A Facebook spokeswoman said the company was cooperating fully with an investigation by Australia's privacy commissioner.

"As we have said before, we should have done more to investigate claims about Cambridge Analytica and take action in 2015", Erin Egan, Facebook's chief privacy officer, said in a statement.

British authorities also said Tuesday they are bringing a "criminal prosecution" against the parent company for SCL Elections Limited, for failing to respond to its enforcement notices.

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The alleged offenses took place before the roll out of new European Union data protection laws that allow for much larger fines.

"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.

"The number of Facebook users affected by this kind of data scraping may be far greater than has now been acknowledged".

Media Committee chairman Damian Collins commented: "Given that the ICO is saying that Facebook broke the law, it is essential that we now know which other apps that ran on their platform may have scraped data in a similar way".

"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. But not all the data may have been deleted, according to some reports.

It also said it would send warning letters to 11 political parties to compel them to audit their data protection practices.

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