United Kingdom watchdog ICO fines Facebook £500,000 over Cambridge Analytica

Britain's data regulator said on Wednesday (Jul 11) it will fine Facebook half a million pounds for failing to protect user data, as part of its investigation into whether personal information was misused ahead of the Brexit referendum.

Facebook is to be hit with the maximum £500,000 ($663,000) fine over data protection breaches related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

While the ICO hasn't exactly ruined the firm's finances with this penalty, it represents the latest in a series of consequences for Facebook following the Cambridge Analytica scandal that erupted this year. According to the Guardian, under new General Data Protection rules implemented this year, Facebook could be fined at four percent of global turnover for any similar violations in the future - or up to $1.9 billion by last count.

More than 50 million Facebook users - including one million people in the United Kingdom - had data harvested by Cambridge Analytica without their consent.

Just think how much more compelling and mind bending Facebook micro-targeting ads could have been if viewers were taken to augmented worlds. She said she would consider its response before reaching a final decision.

The watchdog also announced plans to a bring a criminal action against Cambridge Analytica's defunct parent company SCL Elections.

Cambridge Analytica has maintained that none of the data obtained without the knowledge of Facebook users was shared with or used for the purposes of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. "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", said the information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham.

International Monetary Fund said in a statement late Tuesday it was seeking "compensation for Facebook users arising from Facebook's alleged breaches of the Australian Privacy Principles contained in the Privacy Act 1988".

Facebook's Egan referred to the numerous investigations involving the company.

"We have been working closely with the Information Commissioner's Office in their investigation of Cambridge Analytica, just as we have with authorities in the USA and other countries", he added.

Finally, in a hugely optimistic bid, Denham has called for an "ethical pause" to allow lawmakers, regulators, political parties, online platforms and the public "to reflect on their responsibilities in the era of big data before there is a greater expansion in the use of new technologies".

Facebook said it was reviewing the report and would respond soon.

The U.K.'s probe adopted a wide lens, focusing not only on Facebook but the ecosystem of players - totaling 172 organizations and 285 individuals - involved in the collection and sale of data about web users for political purposes.