UK fines Facebook over Cambridge Analytica scandal

UK fines Facebook over Cambridge Analytica scandal
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The United Kingdom on Thursday officially fined Facebook the maximum possible penalty of $644,600, or 500,000 British pounds, for its actions in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

The Information Commissioner's Office's (ICO), a British government watchdog, found that, between 2007 and 2014, Facebook’s practice of making large amounts of user data available to third-party app developers was done without proper consent from users.

Data on 87 million Facebook accounts was obtained within this time frame, that made its way into the hands of the British research firm, Cambridge Analytica. The firm was hired by the Trump campaign during the 2016 election and allegedly used the data to attempt to suppress some voting groups.

The fine was the maximum possible for the time when the violation occurred but likely would have been larger had it occurred since new European data protections were enacted this past summer.

The ICO said that at least 1 million users in the U.K. were among those whose data was harvested

The watchdog had originally announced the penalties, which was Facebook’s first fine that came as a result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, this summer.

The fine is only the latest blow for Facebook, which has endured a difficult year after revelations on how its platform was manipulated by Russians to interfere in the U.S. political process and that the data of roughly 30 million of its users was compromised in a breach.

The company has testified before Congress multiple times in the last twelve months regarding the various scandals, with Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergBipartisan attorneys general urge Facebook to scrap planned Instagram for kids Hillicon Valley: Broadband companies funded fake net neutrality comments, investigation finds | Twitter rolls out tip feature | Google to adopt 'hybrid work week' Oversight Board achieving what government cannot MORE and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg trekking to Capitol Hill for two of those testimonies.

In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is also conducting its own investigation of Facebook’s data privacy practices following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and could potentially hand Facebook a heftier fine in its forthcoming ruling.