The UK Information Commissioner’s Office has declared their intent to fine Facebook £500,000 for its role in the Cambridge Analytica data leak scandal that accessed personal information from up to 87 million people.
By scraping Facebook data via a third-party plugin created by Cambridge, profiles of users were constructed and manipulated, according to ex-employee and whistle-blower Christopher Wylie.
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. Cambridge Analytica, including possibly its directors, will be criminally prosecuted. pic.twitter.com/td90aL9zVR
— Christopher Wylie 🏳️🌈 (@chrisinsilico) July 10, 2018
Though the fine may seem minuscule compared to revenues (the company generated that amount roughly every five to seven minutes in 1Q 2018), it represents a legal maximum, according to a 1998 data protection law. Had the malfeasance occurred in the GDPR era, the company would have faced charges up to £17m or four percent of global revenue—£1.4bn in Facebook’s case.
UK information commissioner Elizabeth Denham supplemented that monetary fines shouldn’t be the sole focus.
“This is not all about fines though … any company is worried about its reputation because people want to feel that their data is safe,” she said.
87 million #facebook users whose #dataprotection right have been infringed are the tip of the iceberg: 3.6 billion people connected to the internet, 2 billion people reliant for internet access on the dominant mobile operating system are constantly tracked without being logged in
— EDPS (@EU_EDPS) July 11, 2018
Although Cambridge Analytica and its parent company SCL Group have since closed, reports show that Analytica’s former CEO Alexander Nix and a number of employees founded a new company called Emerdata Limited at the same address in August 2017.
Its parent company Firecrest Technologies Limited also resides at the identical location, according to official filings.
In March, Nix was terminated as Director of Emerdata, but allegedly retains directorship of other companies registered in the building.
Commentary suggests a sort of precedent has been set, with other investigations already underway in the US and Europe. Further charges against Facebook are expected to soon follow.
Facebook shares closed Wednesday near an all-time high at $202. Developing.
These revelations, along w/ #cambridgeanalytica, suggest the #EUref was heavily undermined by foreign interference. All EU countries should learn from this & update laws on campaign financing & transparency of social media to protect upcoming elections https://t.co/OT1F0R6mAW
— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) June 11, 2018