Facebook hit with U.K. fine over user privacy

Facebook has been hit with a maximum possible fine for allowing political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica to harvest the information of millions of people without their consent.

In a statement the company said it had lodged a representative complaint with the Office of the Australia Information Commissioner (OAIC) that seeks compensation for "alleged breaches of the Australian Privacy Principles contained in the Privacy Act 1998".

This is now estimated at 87 million, according to the Information Commissioner's Office.

A statement from Facebooks chief privacy officer admitted that Facebook “should have done more to investigate claims about Cambridge Analytica and take action in 2015.” A 40 page report created by British regulators says that Facebook failed by allowing the parties involved with the University of Cambridge to build an app that collects data about Facebook users and their friends.

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 USA election.

Former Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix REUTERS/Henry Nicholls Facebook has a chance to respond to the ICO before a final decision is made on the fine.


The watchdog also plans to bring criminal charges against Cambridge Analytica's defunct parent company SCL Elections.

Facebook has said it will be reviewing the report and responding to the ICO soon. "We have been working closely with the ICO in their investigation of Cambridge Analytica, just as we have with authorities in the USA and other countries". The agency said Tuesday that the social media giant "contravened the law by failing to safeguard people's information".

Facebook's Egan referred to the numerous investigations involving the company.

Collins said Wednesday that the social media giant "should now make the results of their internal investigations known to the ICO, our committee and other relevant investigatory authorities".

Politicians are calling for greater transparency from Facebook in light of the ICO fine. Last year, antitrust regulators in the European Union slapped Facebook with a $122 million fine.

It also said it would send warning letters to 11 political parties to compel them to audit their data protection practices.

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