Facebook faces its first class action in the UK

12 Juillet, 2018, 03:29 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau

The social media giant has been under pressure from governments in Europe and the USA since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, revealing that the consulting company gained access to the personal data of 87 million Facebook users from an academic researcher.

"The alleged breaches surround the circumstances in which a third party, Cambridge Analytica, gained unauthorised access to users' profiles and information", the company said. The EU's much stricter General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect earlier this year, does not apply to Facebook's case.

The Commons' Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee said Ms Denham's inquiry has found that Facebook "contravened the law by failing to safeguard people's information".

Of course, the only "clear signal" Facebook is likely to take away from a fine this tiny is that their actions resulted in zero actual consequences.

Erin Egan, chief privacy officer at Facebook, said: "As we have said before, we should have done more to investigate claims about Cambridge Analytica and take action in 2015".

The commissioner's office also said it could now bring criminal charges against the parent company of Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook's annual revenue in 2017 was almost $40 billion, translating to a much higher possible fine of $1.6 billion. When you compare it to the fine imposed by the U.K. Information Commissioner for Facebook data leak of as many as 87 million users, you won't notice much difference.

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USA regulators are still investigating Facebook's handling of consumer data and how it has worked with third-parties like Cambridge Analytica.

So British political parties also got a warning in Wednesday's broadside, regarding the way they buy marketing lists and "lifestyle information" from data brokers, in order to find out how to better influence people.

The ICO is also planning audits of the main credit reference companies and Cambridge University Psychometric Centre, and ordered Canadian data slurpers Aggregate IQ to stop processing data retained on United Kingdom citizens. She added: '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.

"Everyone from social media firms, political parties and data brokers seem to be taking advantage of new technologies and micro-targeting techniques with very limited transparency and responsibility towards voters", she said.

"The number of Facebook users affected by this kind of data scraping may be far greater than has now been acknowledged". It can respond to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) before a final decision on a fine is made.

"My initial thinking was because the breach happened before GDPR there was no way that there would be a significant enough punishment for Facebook", Taylor said.

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