UK lawmaker says fine imposed on Facebook over user privacy

In this April 18, 2017, file photo, conference workers speak in front of a demo booth at Facebook's annual F8 developer conference, in San Jose, Calif. (AP)
Updated 11 July 2018
0

UK lawmaker says fine imposed on Facebook over user privacy

  • Facebook has been under scrutiny since allegations surfaced that London-based political consultancy Cambridge Analytica used data from tens of millions of Facebook accounts
  • The ICO investigation found that Facebook “contravened the law by failing to safeguard people’s information”

LONDON: Facebook is facing its first financial penalty for allowing the data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica to forage through the personal data of millions of unknowing Facebook users.
A UK government office that investigated the Cambridge Analytica scandal announced its intention to fine Facebook 500,000 pounds ($663,000) for failing to safeguard that user information. The amount is the maximum that the agency, the Information Commissioner’s Office, can levy for violation of Britain’s data-privacy laws.
The penalty is a pittance for Facebook, which generates that sum roughly every seven minutes, based on its first-quarter revenue of $11.97 billion. But it would represent the first tangible punishment for the company’s privacy scandal, which tarnished its reputation, temporarily pushed down its shares and forced CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before Congress, but otherwise led to few lasting repercussions.
Cambridge Analytica, a London firm financed by wealthy Republican donors, worked for the 2016 Trump campaign and for a while employed Steve Bannon, the CEO of President Donald Trump’s campaign and later a White House adviser.
Facebook said the company illicitly gained access to personal information of up to 87 million users via an academic intermediary, although the firm said the number was much smaller than that. According to former Cambridge Analytica data scientist Christopher Wylie, a whistleblower, the firm aimed to construct psychographic profiles it could use to sway the votes of susceptible individuals.
Cambridge Analytica shut down its business in May.
The ICO investigation found that Facebook “contravened the law by failing to safeguard people’s information” and didn’t inform its users “about how their information was harvested by others.” The office’s decision isn’t yet final. Facebook will have an opportunity to respond to the findings, after which the office will render a final judgment.
Damian Collins, the chairman of the UK Parliament’s media committee, said Wednesday that the company “should now make the results of their internal investigations known to the ICO, our committee and other relevant investigatory authorities.”
Facebook’s chief privacy officer, Erin Egan, said in a statement that the company is reviewing the ICO report and will respond soon. She added: “As we have said before, we should have done more to investigate claims about Cambridge Analytica and take action in 2015.”
Facebook faces several other investigations, including others in Europe, a probe by the US Federal Trade Commission and, reportedly, several others at federal agencies such as the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission.


Facebook’s Zuckerberg: No plans to resign

Updated 21 November 2018
0

Facebook’s Zuckerberg: No plans to resign

  • Facebook has stumbled from one mess to another this year
  • Zuckerberg defended his company against the broader wave of flak it has taken this year

WASHINGTON: Embattled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Tuesday he has no plans to resign, sounding defiant after a rough year for the social platform.
“That’s not the plan,” Zuckerberg told CNN Business when asked if he would consider stepping down as chairman.
He also defended Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, who has drawn criticism over her handling of the social media giant’s recent crises.
“Sheryl is a really important part of this company and is leading a lot of the efforts for a lot of the biggest issues we have,” said Zuckerberg.
“She’s been an important partner to me for 10 years. I’m really proud of the work we’ve done together and I hope that we work together for decades more to come.”
Facebook has stumbled from one mess to another this year as it grappled with continuing fallout from Russia’s use of the platform to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election, the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which user data was harnessed in a bid to help candidate Donald Trump, and a huge security breach involving millions of accounts.
Most recently, an investigative piece published last week by The New York Times said Facebook misled the public about what it knew about Russia’s election meddling and used a PR firm to spread negative stories about other Silicon Valley companies and thus deflect anger away from itself.
“It is not clear to me at all that the report is right,” Zuckerberg said of the Times article.
“A lot of the things that were in that report, we talked to the reporters ahead of time and told them that from everything that we’d seen, that wasn’t true and they chose to print it anyway.”
Zuckerberg also defended his company against the broader wave of flak it has taken this year.
“A lot of the criticism around the biggest issues has been fair, but I do think that if we are going to be real, there is this bigger picture as well, which is that we have a different world view than some of the folks who are covering us,” he said.
“There are big issues, and I’m not trying to say that there aren’t ... But I do think that sometimes, you can get the flavor from some of the coverage that that’s all there is, and I don’t think that that’s right either.”