Facebook faces over $650G fine in Britain over data misuse scandal

Image Credit Alexandra Popova  Shutterstock

Image Credit Alexandra Popova Shutterstock

US regulators are still investigating Facebook's handling of consumer data and how it has worked with third-parties like Cambridge Analytica.

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

"It shows the scale of the problem and that we are doing the right thing with our new data protection rules", she said. The ICO said it was providing the interim report to help that inquiry.

She called on political parties, online platforms and the public to pause and "reflect on their responsibilities in the era of big data".

"Facebook has failed to provide the protections required under data protection laws", Denham told reporters before the announcement, according to Politico.

In a roughly 40-page report, British regulators faulted Facebook for allowing Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan to build an app that collected data about Facebook users as well as their friends on behalf of Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg earlier this year admitted his company made mistakes in a "breach of trust" with users and he ordered reforms to prevent a repeat and to give people more control over how their data is used. 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. Facebook initially said the scandal affected about 310,000 Australians in total.

The British agency said it is still weighing potential penalties against Kogan as well as Alexander Nix, the former chief executive of Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook, with CA, has been the focus of the ICO's investigation since February when evidence emerged that an app had been used to harvest the data of 50 million Facebook users around the world.

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".

In Facebook's case this would amount to around US$1.6 billion (€1.4 billion). Among the issues they are still probing is an assertion by Cambridge Analytica that it had deleted the data, after the social media giant requested it in 2015. The watchdog believes that the Cambridge Analytica's affiliate companies may still retain some data, and steps need to be taken to ensure a complete cleanup.

It's not the first time, however, that Europe has penalized Facebook.

Based on 2017 revenues of just over $40bn, Facebook would earn £500,000 in just over eight-and-a-half minutes.

The probe "concluded that Facebook contravened the law by failing to safeguard people's information".

Facebook is facing a record £500,000 fine for twice breaching the Data Protection Act.