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Facebook faces first fine over Cambridge Analytica scandal

Facebook faces first fine over Cambridge Analytica 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.

Social media giant Facebook was dealt a blow this morning when a prominent United Kingdom watchdog said it planned to impose a maximum fine on the company for two breaches of the Data Protection Act.

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.

"The alleged breaches surround the circumstances in which a third party, Cambridge Analytica, gained unauthorized access to users' profiles and information".

The penalty and resulting fine only comprise a small portion of the ICO's report, which initially was undertaken to investigate the misuse of data during the UK's European Union referendum (AKA, Brexit).

Denham claims Facebook broke the law by not being able to protect people's information and hadn't been open about how data was harvested from their platform. "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".

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.

Cambridge Analytica, a London firm financed by wealthy US Republican donors, worked for the 2016 Trump campaign and for a while employed Steve Bannon, the CEO of US President Donald Trump's campaign and later a White House adviser.

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

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg earlier this year admitted his company made mistakes in a "breach of trust" with users and he ordered reforms to prevent a repeat and to give people more control over how their data is used.

The British agency said it is still weighing potential penalties against Kogan as well as Alexander Nix, the former chief executive of Cambridge Analytica. "That's why greater and genuine transparency about the use of data analytics is vital".

"The company has consistently failed to answer the questions from our committee as to who at Facebook was informed about it". Facebook also received a minor fine of $164,000 from French regulators for failing to meet the country's data protection rules.

The Facebook probe is part of a wider investigation into the use of data in political campaigns, which the ICO launched past year, the interim results of which are out today. Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin wrote this story.



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