Facebook to be fined £500,000 over data breaches

The social media giant has been under pressure from governments in Europe and the US since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, revealing that the consulting company gained access to the personal data of 87 million Facebook users from an academic researcher.

£500,000 is the maximum allowed under the Data Protection Act 1998, which was in force when the breach occurred. When you compare it to the fine imposed by the U.K. Information Commissioner for Facebook data leak of as many as 87 million users, you won't notice much difference.

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. The office finds that Facebook lacked the privacy protections necessary to catch Cambridge Analytica before it was too late.

Acting Australian Information Commissioner and Acting Privacy Commissioner, Angelene Falk has previously said that the probe could take longer than the six-to-eight months it usually takes to finalise Commissioner-initiated investigations. The FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission are also looking into Facebook's ties to Cambridge Analytica.

"This can not by left to a secret internal investigation at Facebook. But this can not be at the expense of transparency, fairness and compliance with the law", she said in a statement. "We're reviewing the report and will respond to the ICO soon".

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Facebook faces a £500,000 ($665,000) fine from the UK's data protection watchdog, the ICO, for failing to protect netizens' info nor tell them how their data would be harvested by apps. "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". Damian Collins MP, the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee that has been investigating Cambridge Analytica, said: "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". This initial report blossomed into multiple complaints about how Facebook controls the user data gathered by other companies, how much data Facebook itself stores and more. Facebook said it wouldn't be able to make any firm conclusions on the matter until it conducts its own audit.

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

The firm had links to Donald Trump's presidential campaign in 2016 and had been under investigation by ICO since May 2017. It can respond to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) before a final decision on a fine is made.

British politicians are now calling on Facebook to be more transparent about its internal investigation into data misuse.

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.

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