FB facing small but symbolic UK fine over data protection breaches

LONDON: Britain’s information regulator slapped Facebook with a small but symbolic fine for breaches of data protection law after millions of users’ data was improperly accessed by consultancy Cambridge Analytica.
The £500,000 ($663,850) fine is less that 10 minutes worth of revenue for the social media firm worth $590 billion, but is the maximum amount allowed and emphasises how regulators are finding fault in Facebook’s business practices.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has faced questioning by US and EU lawmakers over how Cambridge Analytica improperly got hold of the personal data of 87 million Facebook users from a researcher. The company has promised to introduce reforms to its policies ahead of local elections in Britain next year.
Updating on her investigation into the use of data analytics by political campaigns, Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said it would fine Facebook, though it can respond to the commissioner before a final decision is made. Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said that Facebook had broken the law by failing to safeguard people’s information and had not been transparent about how data was harvested by others on its platform.
“New technologies that use data analytics to micro-target people give campaign groups the ability to connect with individual voters. But this cannot be at the expense of transparency, fairness and compliance with the law,” she said in a statement.
The fine is the maximum allowed under Britain’s old data protection law, although that was replaced by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May, where companies can be fined up to 4 per cent of revenue for breaches.
Facebook said it was reviewing the report and would respond soon.
“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.
“We have been working closely with the Information Commissioner’s Office in their investigation of Cambridge Analytica, just as we have with authorities in the US and other countries.” — Reuters