Social media giant Facebook has agreed to pay a penalty imposed by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), but has made no admission of guilt.
Facebook was handed the £500,000 fine (the maximum amount that could be given under the Data Protection Act 1998) over data breaches including the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which millions of users’ data was harvested, including at least one million UK users.
When the penalty was initially issued in October 2018, Facebook appealed the fine, which caused the ICO to launch its own counter-appeal. As a result, the a court ordered the ICO to disclose files about its decision-making process in order to explore possible bias against the company.
The ICO appealed this move, but since then both parties have dropped their appeals. Despite the fine, the investigation remains ongoing. Facebook has said it “wished it had done more to investigate Cambridge Analytica” in 2015.
- Facebook Employees Voice Concerns Over Political Ad Controversy
- Facebook Prepares to Tackle General Election Misinformation
- Bank of England Outlines Rules of Engagement for Facebook’s Libra Cryptocurrency
James Dipple-Johnstone, deputy commissioner of the ICO said: “The ICO’s main concern was that UK citizen data was exposed to a serious risk of harm. Protection of personal information and personal privacy is of fundamental importance, not only for the rights of individuals, but also as we now know, for the preservation of a strong democracy.”
“We are pleased to hear that Facebook has taken, and will continue to take, significant steps to comply with the fundamental principles of data protection.”
Harry Kinmonth, director and associate general counsel of Facebook, said: “We made major changes to our platform back then, significantly restricting the information which app developers could access. Protecting people’s information and privacy is a top priority for Facebook, and we are continuing to build new controls to help people protect and manage their information.
“The ICO has stated that it has not discovered evidence that the data of Facebook users in the EU was transferred to Cambridge Analytica by Dr [Aleksandr] Kogan. However, we look forward to continuing to cooperate with the ICO’s wider and ongoing investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes.”