Fine imposed on Facebook over user privacy - United Kingdom lawmaker

Cheryl Sanders
July 11, 2018

The United Kingdom's data protection watchdog has chose to fine social media giant Facebook £5,00,000 (Rs 4.55 crore) for failing to ensure that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica deleted user data that it had access to.

Britain's data regulator said on Wednesday (Jul 11) it will fine Facebook half a million pounds for failing to protect user data, as part of its investigation into whether personal information was misused ahead of the Brexit referendum.

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.

As such, the "investigation into data analytics in political campaigns" has resulted in a number of other regulatory actions and recommendations. "We're reviewing the report and will respond to the ICO soon".

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said that Facebook had broken the law by failing to safeguard people's information and had not been transparent about how data was harvested by others on its platform.

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".

A statement from Facebooks chief privacy officer admitted that Facebook “should have done more to investigate claims about Cambridge Analytica and take action in 2015.” A 40 page report created by British regulators says that Facebook failed by allowing the parties involved with the University of Cambridge to build an app that collects data about Facebook users and their friends. The firm had links to Donald Trump's presidential campaign in 2016 and had been under investigation by ICO since May 2017.

The ICO is also investigating 29 other social media companies, political campaigns, parties and other commercial actors over their roles in the European Union referendum.

Facebook now has the chance to respond to the commissioner's notice of intent, after which a final decision will be made. However, it did so today because a parliamentary committee is also probing the issue of Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and political influence, and the ICO wanted to help inform the committee's work.

"We have been working closely with the Information Commissioner's Office in their investigation of Cambridge Analytica, just as we have with authorities in the USA and other countries", he added. "That's why greater and genuine transparency about the use of data analytics is vital". Facebook also received a minor fine of $164,000 from French regulators for failing to meet the country's data protection rules.

The total is now estimated at 87 million, the ICO said.

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