Britain’s information regulator slapped Facebook with a small but symbolic fine for breaches of data protection law after millions of users’ data was improperly accessed by consultancy Cambridge Analytica.
The 500,000 pound ($663,850) fine is less than 10 minutes worth of revenue for the social media firm worth $590 billion, whose shares were unchanged, but is the maximum amount allowed and represents the first move by a regulator to punish Facebook for the Cambridge Analytica controversy.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has faced questioning by U.S. and EU lawmakers over how the political consultancy obtained the personal data of 87 million Facebook users from a researcher. The company has promised to introduce reforms to its policies before local elections in Britain next year.
Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said Facebook had broken the law by failing to safeguard people’s information and had not been transparent about how data was harvested by others on its platform.
“New technologies that use data analytics to micro-target people give campaign groups the ability to connect with individual voters. But this cannot be at the expense of transparency, fairness and compliance with the law,” she said in a statement.
Facebook said it was reviewing the report and would respond soon. It can respond to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) before a final decision on a fine is made.