Facebook faces United Kingdom fine over Cambridge Analytica scandal

The penalty could be just the first in what might become several fines for Mark Zuckerberg as the Information Commissioner's.

In a statement the company said it had lodged a representative complaint with the Office of the Australia Information Commissioner (OAIC) that seeks compensation for "alleged breaches of the Australian Privacy Principles contained in the Privacy Act 1998". 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. The fine "sends a clear signal that I consider this a significant issue, especially when you look at the scale and the impact of this kind of data breach".

Facebook came under fire earlier this year after media outlets reported that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm based in London, had secretly harvested user data that it then used to try and manipulate public opinion.

She said: "We are at a crossroads".

The report sets out regulatory action taken against a number of the star players in this year's data scandal, including a criminal prosecution against Cambridge Analytica's parent biz SCL Elections Ltd - which has since folded, in name at least - for failing to properly deal with the ICO's enforcement notice.

"We are fully cooperating with the investigation now under way by the Australian Privacy Commissioner and will review any additional evidence that is made available when the UK Office of the Information Commissioner releases their report", the spokeswoman said.

The ICO fine is a fraction of the amount the social media giant could have faced had a new EU law that gives residents of the European Union more control over their personal data been in affect when the data was shared. The agency said Tuesday that the social media giant "contravened the law by failing to safeguard people's information".

"The number of Facebook users affected by this kind of data scraping may be far greater than has now been acknowledged".

The decision was welcomed by former Cambridge Analytica employee and whistleblower Christopher Wylie. 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. But not all the data may have been deleted, according to some reports. The company has said it plans to do so "soon". Facebook also received a minor fine of $164,000 from French regulators for failing to meet the country's data protection rules.

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