Facebook Fined $663,000 for Its Role in Cambridge Analytica Scandal

Facebook has been slapped with a £500,000 fine for the role it played in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which the data of 87m users was harvested for political purposes.

The data regulator found that the social network failed to safeguard users’ information and allowed people’s personal data to be harvested by others, constituting a breach of the Data Protection Act 1998. Had the breach occurred after May this year, Facebook may have faced a far greater fine under the new data protection law, a maximum of 4pc of global turnover or €20m (£18m), whichever was highest.

The penalty could be just the first in what might become several fines for Mark Zuckerberg as the Information Commissioner’s Office continues to investigate other aspects of Facebook’s data sharing such as an advertising service that combined third party data with the likes of credit check giant Experian, among others. Facebook said it has suspended the service in the EU as a result.

The ICO’s probe went beyond how Facebook allowed Dr Aleksandr Kogan, the data scientist who created an app to harvest the personal information of 87m Facebook users and Cambridge Analytica, the now-defunct political campaigning company that the Facebook data was passed on to.

It also determined links between Dr Kogan and Canadian-headquartered data analytics company, Aggregate IQ, which still holds UK citizen data, allegedly passed on by the Leave EU campaign group. Leave EU has denied allegations of wrongdoing.

The regulator said it was difficult to ascertain whether Facebook data had played a role in manipulating the outcome of the European Referendum, however, it had grown concerned about the scale of political parties using software to target or manipulate voters, including software tools that could predict someone’s ethnicity.

It is sending warning letters suggesting all Britain’s political parties give themselves up for a data audit or face their own investigation after it found a large “supply of personal data” to political parties. One data broker called Emma’s Diary had caused “significant concern” after it supplied information about mothers in hospital and has been served an enforcement notice as a result.

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SOURCE: The Guardian, Margi Murphy