Facebook could be forced to pay out £500,000 in data breach fines due to Cambridge Analytica
Poor Facebook’s had a tough time of it recently, after it pilfered all of our data and passed it onto third parties. So you’d be forgiven for not shedding a tear over the fact that the social media giant faces paying the maximum data breach fine of half a million pounds.
The UK’s data protection watchdog intends to fine Facebook £500,000, reports the BBC. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has charged the company with failing to enforce that Cambridge Analytica (cue boos) had deleted its users’ data.
But if Facebook’s going down, then you can be damn well sure Cambridge Analytica is going down with them; the latter firm’s parent company SCL Elections will also have criminal action brought against them by the ICO.
If £500,000 sounds like a lot of money, it’s actually pittance compared to the bill Zuckerberg could be facing under the General Data Protection Regulation laws (GDPR). Speaking to the BBC, Kyle Taylor, director of campaigning group Fair Vote UK said “Under new GDP laws, the ICO could fine Facebook £479m.”
But Zuckerberg will be charged under old data protection laws (in keeping with when the offences were taking place), laments Taylor: “Unfortunately, because they had to follow old data protection laws, they were only able to fine the maximum of £500,000. This is unacceptable.”
The ICO discovered that, despite Cambridge Analytica’s insistence that it had deleted the pilfered data in December 2015, there was evidence of the firm sharing copies of the data with other third parties. As such, Facebook breached its own regulations, in failing to ensure personal data deletion.
Meanwhile, famed whistleblower Christopher Wylie is understandably satisfied; in response to the ICO’s report, Wylie told the BBC: “Months ago I reported Facebook and Cambridge Analytica to the UK authorities […] Based on that evidence, Facebook is today being issued with the maximum fine allowed under British law,” he relayed. “Cambridge Analytica, including possibly its directors, will be criminally prosecuted.”
The righteousness is palpable, and we can’t get enough. That firms harvested the personal data of up to 87 million people and used it to psychologically profile unwitting users is reprehensible, and should be legally acknowledged as such. And, while half a million quid might be small change to tech bosses and big data executives, it’s a symbolic victory which sets a firm precedent.