Facebook agreed to pay the highest possible, £500,000 fine because of its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The settlement will end the more than a year of litigation between the U.K. data protection watchdog, Information Commissioner’s Office, and Facebook.
ICO will also allow Facebook to retain some documents
ICO has publicly announced the intention to fine Facebook back in July 2018 and the official penalty was issued 3 months later. However, Facebook decided to appeal against the fine in June 2019.
Under the terms of the settlement between Facebook and ICO, Facebook has not admitted any liability. ICO will also allow Facebook to retain some documents that ICO had disclosed during the appeal process to help Facebook’s investigation about the issues around Cambridge Analytica.
Fine could be higher
Facebook can be considered lucky about the £500,00 fine. If the issues had occurred after the EU’s general data protection regulations, May 2018, the potential fine could have been up to 4% of Facebook’s annual revenue.
The ICO’s deputy commissioner James Dipple-Johnstone said:
The ICO welcomes the agreement reached with Facebook for the withdrawal of their appeal against our monetary penalty notice and agreement to pay the fine. The ICO’s main concern was that UK citizen data was exposed to a serious risk of harm.
Protection of personal information and personal privacy is of fundamental importance, not only for the rights of individuals, but also as we now know, for the preservation of a strong democracy. We are pleased to hear that Facebook has taken, and will continue to take, significant steps to comply with the fundamental principles of data protection. With this strong commitment to protecting people’s personal information and privacy, we expect that Facebook will be able to move forward and learn from the events of this case.
A lawyer representing Facebook, Harry Kinmonth said:
“We are pleased to have reached a settlement with the ICO. As we have said before, we wish we had done more to investigate claims about Cambridge Analytica in 2015. We made major changes to our platform back then, significantly restricting the information which app developers could access.
Protecting people’s information and privacy is a top priority for Facebook, and we are continuing to build new controls to help people protect and manage their information. The ICO has stated that it has not discovered evidence that the data of Facebook users in the EU was transferred to Cambridge Analytica by Dr Aleksandr Kogan. However, we look forward to continuing to cooperate with the ICO’s wider and ongoing investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes.”