FACEBOOK HAS BEEN WALLOPED with a £500,000 fine from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) for its part in the Cambridge Analytics data scandal.
The scandal, which saw the political strategist firm use masses of Facebook user data to work on influencing around the 2016 US presidential election, was found to be illegal by the ICO, which will pursue action against Cambridge Analytica's parent company SCL Election.
But while Facebook appeared to be an unwitting party in the whole scandal, the ICO has still slapped it with a half-million pound fine for failing to ensure the misused data was deleted.
As such, Mark Zuckerberg's company has to pay the maximum data breach fine the ICO can throw at it for its role in the scandal.
The ICO noted its investigation found that Facebook had unfairly processed its users' data by allowing third-party app developers to access the information without "sufficiently clear and informed consent".
The social network failed to keep the data secure as it hadn't carried out proper checks on the apps and developers using its platform, and as a result: "Dr Aleksandr Kogan and his company GSR, harvested the Facebook data of up to 87 million people worldwide, without their knowledge."
And then that data ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica and thus the scandal began, with Facebook being somewhat responsible.
"Facebook failed to sufficiently protect the privacy of its users before, during and after the unlawful processing of this data. A company of its size and expertise should have known better and it should have done better," said Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham.
Facebook sent a statement to the INQUIRER noting that it's not exactly 100 per cent down with the ICO fine.
"We are currently reviewing the ICO's decision. While we respectfully disagree with some of their findings, we have said before that we should have done more to investigate claims about Cambridge Analytica and taken action in 2015," a Facebook spokesperson said.
"We are grateful that the ICO has acknowledged our full cooperation throughout their investigation, and have also confirmed they have found no evidence to suggest UK Facebook users' data was in fact shared with Cambridge Analytica. Now that their investigation is complete, we are hopeful that the ICO will now let us have access to CA servers so that we are able to audit the data they received."
Nevertheless, £500,000 is but peanuts for the social network; Mark Zuckerberg could probably find that amount down the back of his sofa. So we expect Facebook to take it in its stride and continue to work on shoring up its data protection processes, especially given the slip-ups its suffered this year. µ
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