Facebook faces first fine over Cambridge Analytica scandal

Facebook faces first fine over Cambridge Analytica scandal
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Facebook on Tuesday was hit with its first fine related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which involved the data firm obtaining personal information on tens of millions of Facebook users without their consent.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), a privacy and data watchdog office in the United Kingdom, announced Tuesday that it would fine Facebook the maximum allowed penalty of $664,000 for what it said was improperly overlooked warning signs and for lacking overall privacy protections that could have prevented Cambridge Analytica from obtaining the sensitive data, The Washington Post reported.

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The office, which usually does not publish its findings, said it was doing so due to increased public interest in the subject, according to the Post.

In a statement, Facebook responded to the findings by acknowledging it “should have done more to investigate claims about Cambridge Analytica and take action in 2015."

“We have been working closely with the ICO in their investigation of Cambridge Analytica, just as we have with authorities in the US and other countries,” Facebook’s chief privacy officer, Erin Egan, added in a statement reported by the Post. “We’re reviewing the report and will respond to the ICO soon.”

Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner, wrote in her accompanying report that Facebook should have done more to explain to its users why they were targeted for specific political advertisements or messaging.

“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. “Whilst these concerns about Facebook’s advertising model exist generally in relation to its commercial use, they are heightened when these tools are used for political campaigning.”

Facebook admitted in April that as many as 87 million people could have had their data shared with Cambridge Analytica, the now-defunct data firm used by the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.

Cambridge Analytica has maintained that none of the data obtained without the knowledge of Facebook users was shared with or used for the purposes of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.