Cambridge Analytica got the data of tens of millions of Facebook users from an academic who scraped the information with a personality quiz app. Facebook changed the policies that allowed this scraping in 2015, and told Cambridge Analytica to delete the data in the same year.
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.
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.
Today's update "includes the ICO's intention to fine Facebook a maximum £500,000".Had the Cambridge Analytica scandal happened after the advent of the General Data Protection Regulation, the ICO could have hit the tech firm with a penalty up to £17m, or four per cent of global turnover. "We're reviewing the report and will respond to the ICO soon".
"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.
More than 50 million Facebook users - including one million people in the United Kingdom - had data harvested by Cambridge Analytica without their consent.
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The final decision regarding the fine will be made after Facebook issues a response to the notice.
"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. According to former Cambridge Analytica data scientist Christopher Wylie, a whistleblower, the firm aimed to construct psychographic profiles it could use to sway the votes of susceptible individuals. It's also about half of what the Spanish data protection authorities past year extracted from to the firm for privacy failings.
"Facebook should now make the results of their internal investigations known to the ICO, our committee and other relevant investigatory authorities".
The ICO fine is a fraction of the amount the social media giant could have faced had a new EU law that gives residents of the European Union more control over their personal data been in affect when the data was shared. "But this can not be at the expense of transparency, fairness and compliance with the law".
The ICO said its investigation is continuing and the next phase is expected to be concluded by the end of October.
"Facebook users will be rightly concerned that the company left their data far too vulnerable to being collected without their consent by developers working on behalf of companies like Cambridge Analytica".