Facebook to be fined £500,000 over data breaches

The chairman of the U.K. Parliament's media committee says the government office that investigated the Cambridge Analytica scandal has fined Facebook (FB) 500,000 pounds ($663,000) for failing to safeguard users' data.

Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner, wrote in her accompanying report that Facebook should have done more to explain to its users why they were targeted for specific political advertisements or messaging.

The amount is the maximum allowed under the Data Protection Act 1998, but is pocket change for a company valued a year ago at around $590bn (£445bn).

Facebook is facing a class action in Australia for allegedly breaching privacy laws over the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal.

A Facebook spokeswoman said the company was cooperating fully with an investigation by Australia's privacy commissioner.

The world's largest social network said in April that data of up to 87 million people ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica, which was employed by Donald Trump's 2016 US presidential campaign.

The Information Commissioner's Office, a privacy and data watchdog office in the United Kingdom, announced Tuesday that it would fine Facebook the maximum allowed penalty of $664,000 for what it said was improperly overlooked warning signs and for lacking overall privacy protections that could have prevented Cambridge Analytica from obtaining the sensitive data, The Washington Post reported.

"There's just not that much precedent, certainly not for the sort of scale that we're talking about here", he said, referring to the potential number of litigants. 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. "But this can not be at the expense of transparency, fairness and compliance with the law".

"We have been working closely with the Information Commissioner's Office in their investigation of Cambridge Analytica, just as we have with authorities in the USA and other countries".

The ICO said its investigation is continuing and the next phase is expected to be concluded by the end of October.

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