Facebook faces maximum fine in British Cambridge Analytica inquiry

Compensation sought for Australians caught up in Facebook privacy breach

The fine - the maximum amount allowed - comes after revelations that as many as 87 million Facebook users had their data improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica, a digital consultancy with ties to the Trump campaign. Normally, the ICO does not reveal its initial findings but said it had done so in this case because of the heightened public interest in the matter.

In response, Erin Egan, Facebook's chief privacy officer said: "As we have said before, we should have done more to investigate claims about Cambridge Analytica and take action in 2015".

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".

"But this can not be at the expense of transparency, fairness and compliance with the law", ICO's information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, said in a statement.

The agency said Tuesday that the social media giant "contravened the law by failing to safeguard people's information". "Whilst these concerns about Facebook's advertising model exist generally in relation to its commercial use, they are heightened when these tools are used for political campaigning".

"Facebook users will be rightly concerned that the company left their data far too vulnerable to being collected without their consent by developers working on behalf of companies like Cambridge Analytica".

Cambridge Analytica, which was hired by Donald Trump in 2016, has denied its work on the US president's successful election campaign made use of data.

The New York Times notes that the United Kingdom watchdog's fine is Facebook's first penalty, but it may herald more punitive action against the company.

Facebook "will get a chance to respond to the proposed penalties before the ICO releases a final decision", Bloomberg reports. However, it did so today because a parliamentary committee is also probing the issue of Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and political influence, and the ICO wanted to help inform the committee's work.

SCL Elections was liquidated in the wake of the scandal.

And U.K. regulators pledged additional scrutiny of Facebook to come. The region's competition chief said the social media company had provided misleading information about its privacy promises during its 2014 acquisition of the messenger app WhatsApp. It's also about half of what the Spanish data protection authorities previous year extracted from to the firm for privacy failings.

"We must change this fast as no-one should win elections using illegally obtained data", she said, adding: "We will now assess what can we do at the European Union level to make political advertising more transparent and our elections more secure". Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin wrote this story.

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