Facebook faces maximum fine in British Cambridge Analytica inquiry

Facebook has been slapped with a £500,000 fine for the role it played in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which the data of 87m users was harvested for political purposes. Facebook is now facing inquiries by the U.S. Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission.

The UK's ICO - aka the Information Commissioner's Office - on Wednesday ruled Facebook had twice broken British data protection laws - by failing to safeguard people's information, and by failing to be properly transparent about how that info can be used.

The ICO is also probing another pro-Brexit campaign group, Vote Leave, for sending personal data on United Kingdom citizens to a Cambridge Analytica-like (and possible Cambridge Analytica-affiliated) company called AggregateIQ, which Facebook has kicked off its platform.

Damian Collins, chair of the DCMS committee said: "Given that the ICO is saying that Facebook broke the law, it is essential that we now know which other apps that ran on their platform may have scraped data in a similar way".

This is now estimated at 87 million, according to the Information Commissioner's Office. Facebook will have an opportunity to respond to the findings, after which the office will render a final judgment.

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

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A Russian Internet company with links to the Kremlin was among the firms Facebook gave an extension allowing them to collect data on unsuspecting users - even after the practice was supposedly stopped, CNN reported Tuesday.

The British agency said it is still weighing potential penalties against Kogan as well as Alexander Nix, the former chief executive of Cambridge Analytica.

And U.K. regulators pledged additional scrutiny of Facebook to come.

Lawyers have lodged a mass complaint to Australian privacy authorities on behalf of Facebook users caught up in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Cambridge Analytica, the London-based consultancy that was using the social media information to offer targeted political advertising, shut down in May.

"We must change this fast as no-one should win elections using illegally obtained data", she said, adding: "We will now assess what can we do at the European Union level to make political advertising more transparent and our elections more secure". 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. 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. Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin wrote this story.

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