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

Damian Collins said the Information Commissioner's Office concluded that Facebook "contravened the law by failing to safeguard people's information". The tech giant is accused of not properly protecting user data and not sharing how people's data was harvested by others.

The Information Commissioner's Office, a privacy and data watchdog office in the United Kingdom, announced Tuesday that it would fine Facebook the maximum allowed penalty of $664,000 for what it said was improperly overlooked warning signs and for lacking overall privacy protections that could have prevented Cambridge Analytica from obtaining the sensitive data, The Washington Post reported.

The ICO added that it plans to issue Facebook with the maximum available fine for breaches of the Data Protection Act - an equivalent of US$660,000 or €566,000.

"The alleged breaches surround the circumstances in which a third party, Cambridge Analytica, gained unauthorized access to users' profiles and information".

"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.

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

Future violations will be able to be punished much more strictly, however: Under GDPR, the EU's new data protection legislation, companies can be fined up to €20 million or 4% of their global annual turnover, whichever is higher.

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Denham also called for the government to introduce a statutory code of practice for the use of personal data in political campaigns, adding that "this can not be at the expense of transparency, fairness and compliance with the law". It's also about half of what the Spanish data protection authorities past year extracted from to the firm for privacy failings.

"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".

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

The report also initiates the prosecution of SCL Elections Ltd, which is Cambridge Analytica's parent company, "for failing to properly deal with the ICO's Enforcement Notice".

Facebook admitted in April that as many as 87 million people could have had their data shared with Cambridge Analytica, the now-defunct data firm used by the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

It said it would work with Slattery Lawyers to investigate whether the claim for compensation was possible.

It is the first financial penalty Facebook's has faced since the data leak was revealed earlier this year.

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