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

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during the annual F8 summit at the San Jose Mc Enery Convention Center in San Jose California

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 amount is the maximum that the agency, the Information Commissioner's Office, can levy for violation of Britain's data-privacy laws. It promised another update in October.

In a statement, Facebook responded to the findings by acknowledging it "should have done more to investigate claims about Cambridge Analytica and take action in 2015".

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. Facebook is now facing inquiries by the U.S. Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission.

Facebook's Egan referred to the numerous investigations involving the company.

As such, the "investigation into data analytics in political campaigns" has resulted in a number of other regulatory actions and recommendations.

"The number of Facebook users affected by this kind of data scraping may be far greater than has now been acknowledged". In an accompanying report, Elizabeth Denham, the United Kingdom information commissioner, expressed unease with the "significant shortfall in transparency" from tech companies, political parties and others that harness sensitive bits of information online.

Facebook broke the law by failing to safeguard people's data and not being transparent about how that data could be harvested, said Ms Denham. "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".

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It is now estimated that a third-party app used by Cambridge Analytica to collect data from Facebook affected a total of 87m users around the world.

The Information Commissioner's Office has issued the maximum fine allowed under the 1998 Data Protection Act, of £500,000.

A Facebook spokeswoman said the company was cooperating fully with an investigation by Australia's privacy commissioner.

And U.K. regulators pledged additional scrutiny of Facebook to come.

"We must change this fast as no-one should win elections using illegally obtained data", she said, adding: "We will now assess what can we do at the European Union level to make political advertising more transparent and our elections more secure".

It's not the first time, however, that Europe has penalized Facebook. The company has said it plans to do so "soon".

"It shows the scale of the problem and that we are doing the right thing with our new data protection rules", she said.

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