The U.K. Information Commissioner's Office is threatening the company with the maximum penalty allowed under the old data laws that applied at the time of the alleged wrongdoing. The sum is a record penalty imposed by the UK's data watchdog, but by Facebook's standards, it was chump change.
Facebook is able to respond to the commissioner before the fine is applied.
"New technologies that use data analytics to micro-target people give campaign groups the ability to connect with individual voters".
Facebook will be hit with a record £500,000 (Sh66.8 million) fine over the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal. The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly investigating whether Facebook's approach to sharing user information violated a 2011 legal agreement that could in theory result in massive fines, though its historic approach to the issue suggests it is more likely to issue a relative slap on the wrist.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook, departs the "Tech For Good" meeting at Elysee Palace in Paris, on May 23, 2018.
"A significant finding of the ICO investigation is the conclusion that Facebook has not been sufficiently transparent to enable users to understand how and why they might be targeted by a political party or campaign", Denham wrote. The ICO is also probing another pro-Brexit campaign group, Vote Leave, for sending personal data on United Kingdom citizens to a Cambridge Analytica-like (and possible Cambridge Analytica-affiliated) company called AggregateIQ, which Facebook has kicked off its platform. "But this can not be at the expense of transparency, fairness and compliance with the law".
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The information was gathered through an app that paid users to take a personality test but that also harvested details about their Facebook friends.
The decision was welcomed by former Cambridge Analytica employee and whistleblower Christopher Wylie.
British lawmakers have launched an inquiry into "fake news" and its effect on election campaigns, and have increasingly focused on Cambridge Analytica.
The next phase of the ICO's work is expected to be concluded by the end of October.
Erin Egan, Facebook's chief privacy officer, acknowledged in a statement Tuesday that Facebook "should have done more to investigate claims about Cambridge Analytica and take action in 2015". "We're reviewing the report and will respond to the ICO soon". Facebook is now facing inquiries by the U.S. Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission.
"We are fully cooperating with the investigation now under way by the Australian Privacy Commissioner and will review any additional evidence that is made available when the UK Office of the Information Commissioner releases their report", the spokeswoman said.