UK watchdog fines Facebook over user data breach

A fine of $645,000 has been issued for social media giant over its role in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal

UK watchdog fines Facebook over user data breach

Facebook has been subjected to a huge fine by a British watchdog for failing to protect the privacy of their users.

The U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said the social media platform is now to pay £500,000 ($645,000) for allowing the users’ personal data being harnessed, adding Facebook permitted a "serious breach".

 “Facebook failed to sufficiently protect the privacy of its users before, during and after the unlawful processing of this data," said Elizabeth Denham, information commissioner at ICO. 

"A company of its size and expertise should have known better and it should have done better.”

"Between 2007 and 2014, Facebook processed the personal information of users unfairly by allowing application developers access to their information without sufficiently clear and informed consent, and allowing access even if users had not downloaded the app, but were simply 'friends' with people who had," a statement from ICO said.

The fine came after the ICO looked into allegations of data breach by Facebook via the U.K.-based political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica has been at the center of data breach allegations since a former employee, Christopher Wylie, went public to tell how he built a software to influence voters’ choices earlier this year.

British daily The Observer and The New York Times reported that the company used the personal information of 50 million Facebook users to influence the U.S. presidential election in 2016 in Donald Trump’s favor.

The controversial data analytics firm suspended its CEO Alexander Nix and launched an independent investigation surrounding his role in the mass data breach.

An investigation by London-based Channel 4 News revealed how Nix claimed the firm ran "all" of U.S. President Donald Trump’s digital campaign and may have broken the election law.

The ICO said it is still investigating how data analytics are used to influence political trends.