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

Compensation sought for Australians caught up in Facebook privacy breach

Facebook staring at Australian class action - Security

In the worst ever public relations disaster for the social media giant, Facebook admitted that up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked by British consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica, which was working for US President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.

Lawyers have lodged a mass complaint to Australian privacy authorities on behalf of Facebook users caught up in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

More than 50 million Facebook users - including one million people in the United Kingdom - had data harvested by Cambridge Analytica without their consent.

Media Committee chairman Damian Collins commented: "Given that the ICO is saying that Facebook broke the law, it is essential that we now know which other apps that ran on their platform may have scraped data in a similar way. It also found that the company failed to be transparent about how people's data was harvested by others".

However, Sky News notes that the £500,000 fine will be "pocket change" for a company valued a year ago at around $590bn (£445bn). As per the new rules, it could now lead to fines as much as 4% of a company's annual revenue.

"We are at a crossroads". "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".

Facebook has said that a Cambridge University lecturer named Aleksandr Kogan collected the data legitimately through a personality quiz app but then violated Facebook's terms by sharing the information with Cambridge Analytica, a firm later hired by the Trump presidential campaign during the 2016 U.S. election.

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Denham also called for the government to introduce a statutory code of practice for the use of personal data in political campaigns, adding that "this can not be at the expense of transparency, fairness and compliance with the law".

EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova welcomed the ICO report.

"It's an important moment for data protection", she added. "That's why greater and genuine transparency about the use of data analytics is vital".

The ICO fine is a fraction of the amount the social media giant could have faced had a new EU law that gives residents of the European Union more control over their personal data been in affect when the data was shared.

But the ICO said because of the timing of the incidents involved in its inquiry, the penalties were limited to those available under previous legislation.

The next phase of the ICO's work is expected to be concluded by the end of October.

"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.

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