Watchdog urges record £500000 fine for Facebook over Cambridge Analytica data scandal

It could be the first in a series of penalties for Facebook, political parties, data companies and academics as a result of the scandal.

The U.K.'s Information Commissioner's Office, an independent data watchdog, intends to slap Facebook with a 500,000-pound fine, or about $660,000, for two breaches of the country's Data Protection Act.

The Commons' Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee said Ms Denham's inquiry has found that Facebook "contravened the law by failing to safeguard people's information". The fine "sends a clear signal that I consider this a significant issue, especially when you look at the scale and the impact of this kind of data breach".

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham launched a probe after it emerged an internet personality quiz was able to gather the data of up to 87 million Facebook users, by accessing not only the details of people taking the test who gave their consent, but that of their "Facebook friends", who had not agreed.

Facebook has been under scrutiny since allegations surfaced that London-based political consultancy Cambridge Analytica used data from tens of millions of Facebook accounts to help United States President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign.

She said: "We are at a crossroads".

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.

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"This can not by left to a secret internal investigation at Facebook".

"We are fully cooperating with the investigation now under way by the Australian Privacy Commissioner and will review any additional evidence that is made available when the UK Office of the Information Commissioner releases their report", the spokeswoman said.

The decision was welcomed by former Cambridge Analytica employee and whistleblower Christopher Wylie.

However, the Information Commissioner's report said other regulatory action would include a criminal prosecution against Cambridge Analytica's parent firm, SCL Elections, for failing to deal with the regulator's enforcement notice. "We have been working closely with the ICO in their investigation of Cambridge Analytica, just as we have with authorities in the U.S. and other countries".

Mr Collins said his own committee will publish its interim report about disinformation and data use in political campaigns later this month.

Politicians are calling for greater transparency from Facebook in light of the ICO fine. The company has said it plans to do so "soon".

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