- Facebook is appealing a £500,000 ($640,000) fine from Britain’s privacy watchdog over the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
- Facebook said the ICO found no evidence that data from UK users, harvested by Dr Aleksandr Kogan, was passed to Cambridge Analytica.
- It is appealing on principle because the ICO’s ruling “challenges some of the basic principles of how people should be allowed to share information online.”
Facebook is going to fight the fine it received from Britain’s privacy watchdog over the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
In a statement on Wednesday, the company said it would appeal the £500,000 ($640,000) penalty from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
Facebook said this was because the ICO found no evidence that data from UK users, harvested by Cambridge University academic Dr Aleksandr Kogan, was passed to Cambridge Analytica.
In a statement sent to Business Insider, Facebook lawyer Anna Benckert said:
“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. Instead, their reasoning challenges some of the basic principles of how people should be allowed to share information online, with implications which go far beyond just Facebook, which is why we have chosen to appeal.”
Benckert, the associate general counsel for EMEA, added that it was an important point of principle for Facebook.
She said: “For example, under ICO’s theory people should not be allowed to forward an email or message without having agreement from each person on the original thread.
“These are things done by millions of people every day on services across the internet, which is why we believe the ICO’s decision raises important questions of principle for everyone online which should be considered by an impartial court based on all the relevant evidence.”
The ICO’s 27-page penalty notice can be read here. In summary, the ICO said Facebook failed to protect users by allowing developers access to data without clear and proper consent between 2007 and 2014.
This allowed Kogan and his company GSR to harvest information, which was ultimately weaponized by Cambridge Analytica during the 2016 presidential election in the US.
Even after the breach was discovered in 2015, the ICO said Facebook did not take sufficient action to ensure those who held the data deleted it.
An ICO spokeswoman 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. We have not yet been notified by the Tribunal that an appeal has been received.”
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