Facebook handed maximum data breach fine for role in Cambridge Analytica scandal

Facebook has been hit with a maximum possible fine for allowing political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica to harvest the information of millions of people without their consent.

"It also found that the company failed to be transparent about how people's data was harvested by others". Normally, the ICO does not reveal its initial findings but said it had done so in this case because of the heightened public interest in the matter.

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

"Facebook should now make the results of their internal investigations known to the ICO, our committee and other relevant investigatory authorities".

"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.

Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner, wrote in her accompanying report that Facebook should have done more to explain to its users why they were targeted for specific political advertisements or messaging. The agency said Tuesday that the social media giant "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 London-based firm worked for Donald Trump's campaign team in the 2016 United States presidential election and used the data to build a software program to predict and try to influence votes.

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

The British agency said it is still weighing potential penalties against Kogan as well as Alexander Nix, the former chief executive of Cambridge Analytica.

And U.K. regulators pledged additional scrutiny of Facebook to come. But not all the data may have been deleted, according to some reports.

As such it has served Facebook with a notice of intent to fine the biz, and if the sum is coughed up by the web giant as expected, it will be the biggest fine issued by the ICO.

It's not the first time, however, that Europe has penalized Facebook.

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