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Facebook to pay Cambridge Analytica fine

Facebook has agreed to pay a £500,000 fine in the UK over the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, assuring users of the social media platform that it is taking steps to ensure data is protected.

The fine is to be paid to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after more than a year of litigation between the two organisations.

Under the terms of the settlement, Facebook has made no admission of liability, but said it is “continuing to build new controls to help people protect and manage their information.”

In the last year, Facebook has become a more prominent feature in the ticketing industry after teaming up with ticketing firm’s such as Eventbrite, as well as partnering with cinema’s such as UK chain Odeon to sell tickets without leaving the social media platform, and has become one of the most popular way for music fans to discover festivals.

In March, Facebook also claimed to be “taking action” to stop fraudulent ticket activity from taking place on its platform, after it was discovered that thousands of pounds were stolen via ticketing scams over the past year.

Following the discovery of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, which took place in 2015, the ICO announced its intention to fine Facebook in July 2018, which Facebook appealed against, and in June 2019 the tribunal issued an interim decision “holding that procedural fairness and allegations of bias on the part of the ICO should be considered as part of the appeal, and that the ICO should be required to disclose materials relating to its decision-making process”.

James Dipple-Johnstone, the ICO’s deputy commissioner, said: “The ICO welcomes the agreement reached with Facebook for the withdrawal of their appeal against our monetary penalty notice and agreement to pay the fine. The ICO’s main concern was that UK citizen data was exposed to a serious risk of harm.

“Protection of personal information and personal privacy is of fundamental importance, not only for the rights of individuals, but also as we now know, for the preservation of a strong democracy. We are pleased to hear that Facebook has taken, and will continue to take, significant steps to comply with the fundamental principles of data protection. With this strong commitment to protecting people’s personal information and privacy, we expect that Facebook will be able to move forward and learn from the events of this case.”

Harry Kinmonth, a lawyer representing Facebook, said: “We are pleased to have reached a settlement with the ICO. As we have said before, we wish we had done more to investigate claims about Cambridge Analytica in 2015. We made major changes to our platform back then, significantly restricting the information which app developers could access. Protecting people’s information and privacy is a top priority for Facebook, and we are continuing to build new controls to help people protect and manage their information.

“The ICO has stated that it has not discovered evidence that the data of Facebook users in the EU was transferred to Cambridge Analytica by Dr [Aleksandr] Kogan. However, we look forward to continuing to cooperate with the ICO’s wider and ongoing investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes.”