ICO fines Facebook £500,000

Two breaches of the 1998 DPA, the Information Commissioner decides, while issuing a raft of other sanctions she feels necessary for election-related mishandling of private information

Posted 11 July 2018 by Gary Flood

Bad use of data analytics in recent political campaigns have drawn the considerable ire of the Information Commissoner, who has issued a massive half million pound fine on Facebook, it was announced yesterday.

The social media giant “contravened the law”, the UK’s data watchdog has decided after an investigation dating back to March 2017, for failing to adequately safeguard user information.

It also decided that Facebook had failed to be transparent about what it did with user data – hence the maximum fine. Facebook can appeal the decision, which formally speaking is currently just a ‘Notice of Intent.’

As part of its other measures, ICO also wants to audit 11 political parties for their use of data in recent political campaigns, as well as actions against certain of the legal entities involved in the now-defunct Cambridge Analytica.

Commenting on her tough response to the data scandals of the past year, which have been tied to allegations of ‘cheating’ in elections and referenda in the US and UK, the Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, noted, “Fines and prosecutions punish the bad actors, but my real goal is to effect change and restore trust and confidence in our democratic system.”

She has also called on politicians to ‘pause’ and think about how to best use new technology in the era of Big Data.