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Facebook to be fined £500,000 over data breaches

11 July 2018

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 New York Times notes that the United Kingdom watchdog's fine is Facebook's first penalty, but it may herald more punitive action against the company.

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.

Facebook is facing a class action in Australia for allegedly breaching privacy laws over the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal.

The London-based firm worked for Donald Trump's campaign team in the 2016 USA presidential election and used the data to build a software program to predict and try to influence votes.

Former Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix REUTERS/Henry Nicholls Facebook has a chance to respond to the ICO before a final decision is made on the fine.

"As we have said before, we should have done more to investigate claims about Cambridge Analytica and take action in 2015", Erin Egan, Facebook's chief privacy officer, said in a statement sent to HuffPost.

The ICO fine is a fraction of the amount the social media giant could have faced had a new EU law that gives residents of the European Union more control over their personal data been in affect when the data was shared. The region's competition chief said the social media company had provided misleading information about its privacy promises during its 2014 acquisition of the messenger app WhatsApp.

"This can not by left to a secret internal investigation at Facebook. We're reviewing the report and will respond to the ICO soon".

"The number of Facebook users affected by this kind of data scraping may be far greater than has now been acknowledged".

"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, according to the Post.

As such it has served Facebook with a notice of intent to fine the biz, and if the sum is coughed up by the web giant as expected, it will be the biggest fine issued by the ICO. It's also about half of what the Spanish data protection authorities a year ago extracted from to the firm for privacy failings.