UK regulator to fine Facebook over data breaches

11 Julio, 2018, 14:17 | Author: Kelly Blake
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during the annual F8 summit at the San Jose Mc Enery Convention Center in San Jose California

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) began investigating the social media giant earlier this year, when evidence emerged that an app had been used to harvest the data of tens of millions of Facebook users worldwide. The FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission are also looking into Facebook's ties to Cambridge Analytica.

The UK's ICO - aka the Information Commissioner's Office - on Wednesday ruled Facebook had twice broken British data protection laws - by failing to safeguard people's information, and by failing to be properly transparent about how that info can be used.

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".

For the United Kingdom, the key consideration has been the extent to which Facebook data - once in the hands of Cambridge Analytica and its parent company, SCL Elections - may have been used to assist those who supported a vote to leave the European Union, known as Brexit.

Facebook faces a £500,000 ($665,000) fine from the UK's data protection watchdog, the ICO, for failing to protect netizens' info nor tell them how their data would be harvested by apps.

Facebook said the company illicitly gained access to personal information of up to 87 million users via an academic intermediary, although the firm said the number was much smaller than that.

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Facebook has a chance to respond to the ICO before a final decision is made on the fine.

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. However, it did so today because a parliamentary committee is also probing the issue of Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and political influence, and the ICO wanted to help inform the committee's work.

And U.K. regulators pledged additional scrutiny of Facebook to come.

Cambridge Analytica, the London-based consultancy that was using the social media information to offer targeted political advertising, shut down in May.

Finally, in a hugely optimistic bid, Denham has called for an "ethical pause" to allow lawmakers, regulators, political parties, online platforms and the public "to reflect on their responsibilities in the era of big data before there is a greater expansion in the use of new technologies".

Damian Collins, the chairman of the U.K. Parliament's media committee, said Wednesday that the company "should now make the results of their internal investigations known to the ICO, our committee and other relevant investigatory authorities". The company has said it plans to do so "soon". It's also about half of what the Spanish data protection authorities past year extracted from to the firm for privacy failings. Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin wrote this story.

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