Facebook got hit with the maximum possible fine in the UK after the Cambridge Analytica scandal that harvested user data without their consent. This is the first financial penalty for Facebook since the breach was first revealed. The fine is expected to amount to somewhere around 500,000 pounds or about $660,000.
It’s definitely a tiny sum for a big company like Facebook which has recorded billions of dollars in revenue over the last few years. Nonetheless, according to UK law, this is the largest fine that can be levied by the country’s Information Commissioner’s Office.
The British Information Commissioner’s office started looking into the Cambridge Analytica scandal this year. The office had already started investigating the potential misuse of user data for political purposes in May last year. The Cambridge Analytica scandal wasn’t public at the time. However, after the scandal was revealed in March this year, the investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office became all the more urgent.
Cambridge Analytica, a London-based firm, was accused of harvesting the data of over 87 million Facebook users without their consent. The data firm was also accused of inappropriately using that data for political purposes. The company is said to have had close ties with President Donald Trump and some members of his campaign team during the 2016 election.
The preliminary report by the British Information Commissioner’s Office following this investigation concluded that Facebook had contravened UK law by failing to secure the private information of its users. In addition to this, the report also called out Facebook for lack of transparency regarding this issue.
Ever since the Cambridge Analytica scandal became public, Facebook has been dealing with a lot of regulatory scrutiny. Its CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared in front of US lawmakers to try and assure the public that the company would take decisive measures to protect user data moving forward. The social media company released several measures to help prevent such scandals from happening in the future.
Facebook is also being investigated in the US and in countries like Australia for the Cambridge Analytica scandal so it’s very likely that the punitive fine in the UK will not be the last. Multiple federal agencies in the US are looking into the Cambridge Analytica scandal to try and establish whether the social media platform was culpable in the inappropriate use of user data.
The FBI and the Justice Department have broadened their investigation into the matter and their findings are expected to become public in the coming months. The Security Exchange Commission is also investigating how Facebook handled the matter as the Federal Trade Commission continues to look into whether Facebook violated a privacy agreement with the agency.
The Report by the British Information Commissioner’s Office also confirmed that it’s pursuing criminal prosecution of SCL Group, the company that owns Cambridge Analytica. Facebook will get the chance to respond to this initial report and its findings. Nonetheless, the commissioner’s office said that the investigation is still ongoing.