Facebook BROKE LAW in personal data controversy, says watchdog

Facebook BROKE LAW in personal data controversy, says watchdog

Facebook is facing a class action in Australia for allegedly breaching privacy laws over the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal.

It could be the first in a series of penalties for Facebook, political parties, data companies and academics as a result of the scandal.

The EU in May launched strict new data-protection laws allowing regulators to fine companies up to €20 million (US$24 million) or four percent of annual global turnover.

The penalty and resulting fine only comprise a small portion of the ICO's report, which initially was undertaken to investigate the misuse of data during the UK's European Union referendum (AKA, Brexit).

Facebook broke the law by failing to safeguard people's data and not being transparent about how that data could be harvested, said Ms Denham. The U.K.'s investigation found "evidence that copies of the data/parts of it also seem to have been shared with other parties and on other systems beyond", which "potentially brings into question the accuracy" of Cambridge Analytica's assertion that it wiped the data from its stores. In an accompanying report, Elizabeth Denham, the United Kingdom information commissioner, expressed unease with the "significant shortfall in transparency" from tech companies, political parties and others that harness sensitive bits of information online.

"Trust and confidence in the integrity of our democratic processes risk being disrupted because the average voter has little idea of what is going on behind the scenes", Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said in a statement according to CNBC.

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In a roughly 40-page report, British regulators faulted Facebook for allowing Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan to build an app that collected data about Facebook users as well as their friends on behalf of Cambridge Analytica. The watchdog believes that the Cambridge Analytica's affiliate companies may still retain some data, and steps need to be taken to ensure a complete cleanup.

She said she would consider its response before reaching a final decision.

Facebook's revenue past year totalled $40.7bn (£30.7bn), so half a million pounds.

"The complaint seeks financial recompense for the unauthorised access to, and use of, their personal data". Among the issues they are still probing is an assertion by Cambridge Analytica that it had deleted the data, after the social media giant requested it in 2015.

The ICO isn't just looking at Facebook and Cambridge Analytica-indeed, it folded this affair into a pre-existing investigation into the use of data analytics in political campaigns.

It has also said that, while it pitched for work with campaign group Leave.EU ahead of the Brexit referendum in Britain in 2016, it did not end up doing any work on the campaign.

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