Facebook just got its first penalty after the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke. The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined the social network a preliminary amount of £500,000 or $664,000 (maximum allowed by the law), saying that the company lacked proper privacy protection and failed to catch warning signs that Cambridge Analytica was abusing users’ data.
The ICO essentially blamed Facebook for the scandal, saying that it let researcher Aleksandr Kogan gather user data via an app and didn’t warn its users when discovered. The commission also found a “shortfall in transparency” from tech firms and their third-party companies, which are involved in collecting and selling users’ data.
“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.”
However, the penalty isn’t final and as the Washington Post reports, might change depending on the further discussion with Facebook. “We have been working closely with the ICO in their investigation of Cambridge Analytica, just as we have with authorities in the US and other countries […] We’re reviewing the report and will respond to the ICO soon,” said Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer.
The penalizing of Cambridge Analytica’s former chief executive Alexander Nix is under consideration as well. You can expect another update on this case in October.