Sunday, 17 October 2021
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Facebook fined £500m under information commissioner investigation into data use in political campaigning

The UK’s Information Commission Office has fined Facebook £500,000 million and called for a new statutory Code of Practice for use of personal information in political activity following its investment into the practice of using data analytics in political campaigns.

The maximum £500,000 penalty issued to Facebook relates to two breaches of the Data Protection Act that occurred as part of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, now estimated to have impacted 87 million consumers globally. It’s one of a number of recommendations made by the ICO aimed at improving transparency and regulation around the use of consumer data in any form of election campaigning.

The ICO’s work kicked off in March 2017 and was first aimed at looking at how personal data had potentially been misused by campaigns on both sides of the Brexit referendum.  In May, the watchdog officially launched an investigation encompassing political parties, data analytics firms and major social media platform providers.

In February this year, the spotlight was firmly placed on Facebook after it emerged the social media giant shared the personal data of at least 50 million users with Cambridge Analytica for the purposes of election campaigning.

The ICO said its regulatory action to date also includes warning letters to 11 political parties and notices compelling them to agree to audits of their data protection policies; a notice of intent to take regulatory action against data broker, Emma’s Diary (Lifecycle marketing (Mother and Baby Limited); an enforcement notice as well as criminal prosecution of SCL Elections, the parent company of the now defunct Cambridge Analytica, for failing to deal with the enforcement notice relating to subject access requests; and audits of main credit reference companies as well as the Cambridge University Psychometric Centre.

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