NEWS22 November 2018

Facebook to appeal against £500,000 ICO fine

Data analytics GDPR News Privacy Technology UK

UK – Facebook is lodging an appeal against its fine of £500,000 levied by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for breaching data protection law.

Person holding phone with Facebook login screen

The company is disputing the fine because it questions “some of the basic principles of how people should be allowed to share information online,” according to a statement from Anna Benckert, Facebook’s vice-president and associate general counsel for EMEA.

The ICO first announced its intention to fine Facebook in July, as part of its investigation into the use of personal data for political purposes. According to the regulator, Facebook failed to protect its users’ privacy during the processing of personal data, some of which was later shared with Cambridge Analytica.

The decision to issue the fine – the maximum possible penalty under pre-GDPR data protection legislation – was upheld last month. Facebook had until yesterday to bring an appeal against the fine or accept it.

Benckert said in a statement: “We have said before that we wish we had done more to investigate claims about Cambridge Analytica in 2015. We made major changes to our platform back then and have also significantly restricted the information app developers can access. And we are investigating all historic apps that had access to large amounts of information before we changed our platform policies in 2014.”

Facebook argued that the scope of the ICO’s investigation extends beyond the events involving Cambridge Analytica. “The ICO’s investigation stemmed from concerns that UK citizens’ data may have been impacted by Cambridge Analytica, yet they now have confirmed that they have found no evidence to suggest that information of Facebook users in the UK was ever shared by Dr Kogan with Cambridge Analytica, or used by its affiliates in the Brexit referendum. Therefore, the core of the ICO’s argument no longer relates to the events involving Cambridge Analytica.”

Benckert added that the company has chosen to appeal because the ICO’s rationale has implications “far beyond just Facebook”. The decision by the ICO “raises important questions of principle for everyone online which should be considered by an impartial court based on all the relevant evidence,” the company said.

An ICO spokesperson said: “Any organisation issued with a monetary penalty notice by the information commissioner has the right to appeal the decision to the First-tier Tribunal. The progression of any appeal is a matter for the tribunal."


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