Facebook is being fined £500,000, or around $662,000, in the United Kingdom by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) under the 1998 Data Protection Act.
The fine is the maximum amount possible, and is being issued against Facebook for “failing to safeguard people’s information.”
“The ICO is clear that Facebook effectively broke the law by failing to keep users data safe, when their systems allowed Dr. Aleksandr Kogan, who developed an app, called ‘This is your digital life’ on behalf of Cambridge Analytica, to scrape the data of up to 87 million Facebook users,” ICO declared. “This included accessing all of the friend’s data of the individual accounts that had engaged with Dr. Kogan’s app.”
ICO also called for an “ethical pause” of microtargeting ad tools to “allow the key players — government, parliament, regulators, political parties, online platforms and citizens — to reflect on their responsibilities in respect of the use of personal information in the era of big data before there is a greater expansion in the use of new technologies.”
“Engagement with the electorate is vital to the democratic process; it is therefore understandable that political campaigns are exploring the potential of advanced data analysis tools to help win votes. The public have the right to expect that this takes place in accordance with the law as it relates to data protection and electronic marketing,” they proclaimed. “Without a high level of transparency – and therefore trust amongst citizens that their data is being used appropriately – we are at risk of developing a system of voter surveillance by default. This could have a damaging long-term effect on the fabric of our democracy and political life.”
Business Insider claims it would take Facebook just eighteen minutes to pay off the £500,000 fine.