Compensation sought for Australians caught up in Facebook privacy breach

"It also found that the company failed to be transparent about how people's data was harvested by others".

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.

However, Sky News notes that the £500,000 fine will be "pocket change" for a company valued previous year at around $590bn (£445bn).

"As we have said before, we should have done more to investigate claims about Cambridge Analytica and take action in 2015", Erin Egan, Facebook's chief privacy officer, said in a statement sent to HuffPost.

"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.

Facebook has a chance to respond to the ICO before a final decision is made on the fine.

The London-based firm worked for Donald Trump's campaign team in the 2016 United States presidential election and used the data to build a software program to predict and try to influence votes.

Today's update "includes the ICO's intention to fine Facebook a maximum £500,000".Had the Cambridge Analytica scandal happened after the advent of the General Data Protection Regulation, the ICO could have hit the tech firm with a penalty up to £17m, or four per cent of global turnover. "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". The ICO wants parties to undergo compulsory audits of their use of personal data, including the purchase of marketing lists and lifestyle information to help target voters.

The report also initiates the prosecution of SCL Elections Ltd, which is Cambridge Analytica's parent company, "for failing to properly deal with the ICO's Enforcement Notice". "But this can not be at the expense of transparency, fairness and compliance with the law", she said in a statement.

Mr Collins said his own committee will publish its interim report about disinformation and data use in political campaigns later this month. Facebook also received a minor fine of $164,000 from French regulators for failing to meet the country's data protection rules.

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

The next phase of the ICO's work is expected to be concluded by the end of October.

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.

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