Facebook faces record fine over Cambridge Analytica scandal

Compensation sought for Australians caught up in Facebook privacy breach

In an accompanying report, Elizabeth Denham, the United Kingdom information commissioner, expressed unease with the "significant shortfall in transparency" from tech companies, political parties and others that harness sensitive bits of information online. "But this can not be at the expense of transparency, fairness and compliance with the law".

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.

"As we have said before, we should have done more to investigate claims about Cambridge Analytica and take action in 2015", said Erin Egan, Facebook's chief privacy officer.

Damian Collins MP, the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee that has been investigating Cambridge Analytica, said: "Given that the ICO is saying that Facebook broke the law, it is essential that we now know which other apps that ran on their platform may have scraped data in a similar way".

It is the largest possible penalty that can be handed out by Britain's information watchdog, which found the social media giant had broken the law by failing to safeguard millions of users' data.

Facebook will address the proposed penalty before the watchdog makes a final ruling. Facebook also received a minor fine of $164,000 from French regulators for failing to meet the country's data protection rules.

However, Sky News notes that the £500,000 fine will be "pocket change" for a company valued past year at around $590bn (£445bn).

"Trust and confidence in the integrity of our democratic processes risk being disrupted because the average voter has little idea of what is going on behind the scenes", she said.

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The penalty and resulting fine only comprise a small portion of the ICO's report, which initially was undertaken to investigate the misuse of data during the UK's European Union referendum (AKA, Brexit).

The total is now estimated at 87 million, the ICO said. "People can not have control over their own data if they don't know or understand how it is being used".

British politicians are now calling on Facebook to be more transparent about its internal investigation into data misuse.

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".

OAIC is conducting its own investigation into whether Facebook breached the Privacy Act, which obligates organisations to ensure customers are notified about the collection and handling of their personal information.

ICO, which does not normally publish its findings, said it would give the public another update on its investigation in October.

"Facebook users will be rightly concerned that the company left their data far too vulnerable to being collected without their consent by developers working on behalf of companies like Cambridge Analytica".

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