Posted on July 11, 2018 by staff

Facebook faces maximum fine by UK watchdog

Facebook faces maximum fine by UK watchdog

TechRadar claims it will take Facebook around seven minutes to earn the £500,000 penalty back
TechRadar claims it will take Facebook around seven minutes to earn the £500,000 penalty back

Facebook could soon be facing a maximum fine of £500,000 from the UK’s data watchdog following two data breaches.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said the social media giant had failed to protect people’s online data connected to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The update follows a long investigation into the use of data analytics in political campaigns.

“Facebook, with Cambridge Analytica, has been the focus of the investigation since February when evidence emerged that an app had been used to harvest the data of 50 million Facebook users across the world,” an ICO statement said. “This is now estimated at 87 million.

“The ICO’s investigation concluded that Facebook contravened the law by failing to safeguard people’s information. It also found that the company failed to be transparent about how people’s data was harvested by others.”

Facebook will be given a chance to respond to the commissioner’s Notice of Intent, after which a final decision will be made.

If the breach had come under the new General Data Protection Act (GDPR), which came into force on 25th May 2018, Facebook could have been facing a financial penalty in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Chief privacy officer Erin Egan said Facebook is reviewing the ICO’s  report and will respond “soon”.

The ICO also plans to pursue criminal action against SCL Elections Ltd, Cambridge Analytica’s now defunct parent company.

Facebook’s fine is only a small portion of the ICO’s progress report, which was initially undertaken to investigate the use of data during the UK’s EU referendum.

The watchdog has made a number of key recommendations, including a call for the government to introduce a statutory Code of Practice for the use of personal data in political campaigns.

The ICO has also written warning letters to 11 political parties and notices compelling them to agree to audits of their data protection practices.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “We are at a crossroads. Trust and confidence in the integrity of our democratic processes risk being disrupted because the average voter has little idea of what is going on behind the scenes.

“New technologies that use data analytics to micro-target people give campaign groups the ability to connect with individual voters. But this cannot be at the expense of transparency, fairness and compliance with the law.

She added: “Fines and prosecutions punish the bad actors, but my real goal is to effect change and restore trust and confidence in our democratic system.”

According to tech publication TechRadar, it would take Facebook around seven minutes to earn back the £500,000 penalty.