UK imposes largest ever privacy fine on Facebook – but amounts to just 18 minutes of profits

The UK’s privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office, has just imposed its largest fine ever for failing to safeguard user data. It fined Facebook £500k ($662k), the highest amount permitted by law …

However, as the Register observed, the sum isn’t much of a punishment for the firm.

The UK’s ICO on Wednesday ruled Facebook had twice broken British data protection laws – by failing to safeguard people’s information, and by failing to be properly transparent about how that info can be used.

As such it has served Facebook with a notice of intent to fine the biz, and if the penalty is handed out as expected, it will be the biggest issued by the ICO. £500,000 is the maximum allowed under the Data Protection Act 1998, which was in force when the breach occurred.

However, it remains a mere drop in the ocean for the Zuckerborg, which reported a net income of $5bn in its latest quarter, making that £500,000 about 18 minutes of quarterly profit.

Data collected from Facebook by Cambridge Analytica was apparently used to help influence the election of president Trump in the USA, and fake news on Facebook appears to have also paid a significant role in the UK’s Brexit referendum.

Photo: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

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Facebook is the most popular social media service in the world with 2.32 billion monthly active users as of December 31, 2018


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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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