UK regulator to fine Facebook over data breaches

11 July, 2018, 14:16 | Author: Myra Gill
  • Compensation sought for Australians caught up in Facebook privacy breach

The British privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO, ) said Wednesday that intends to fine Facebook the maximum possible fine for the data protection violation.

The office, which usually does not publish its findings, said that it was doing so due to increased public interest in the subject, according to the Post. It promised another update in October.

Mail.Ru told CNN it had not been contacted by Facebook about its investigation into the misuse of user data. The office finds that Facebook lacked the privacy protections necessary to catch Cambridge Analytica before it was too late.

A Russian Internet company with links to the Kremlin was among the firms Facebook gave an extension allowing them to collect data on unsuspecting users - even after the practice was supposedly stopped, CNN reported Tuesday. "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.

The Commons' Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee said Ms Denham's inquiry has found that Facebook "contravened the law by failing to safeguard people's information". "Whilst these concerns about Facebook's advertising model exist generally in relation to its commercial use, they are heightened when these tools are used for political campaigning".

The social networking giant admitted in April the data of up to 87 million people worldwide - including more than 300,000 in Australia - was harvested by Cambridge Analytica.

The social media giant has said it has since identified 200 other apps which may have been used the same way, and is investigating.


United Kingdom investigators also questioned whether Facebook failed to maintain adequate safeguards to ensure other third-party app developers had not misused social data.

The final decision regarding the fine will be made after Facebook issues a response to the notice. However, it did so today because a parliamentary committee is also probing the issue of Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and political influence, and the ICO wanted to help inform the committee's work.

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 watchdog also announced plans to a bring a criminal action against Cambridge Analytica's defunct parent company SCL Elections.

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

It's not the first time, however, that Europe has penalized Facebook. Last year, antitrust regulators in the European Union slapped Facebook with a $122 million fine. The region's competition chief said the social media company had provided misleading information about its privacy promises during its 2014 acquisition of the messenger app WhatsApp.

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