The British Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has successfully gotten Facebook to agree to pay a five hundred thousand pound fine over their Cambridge Analytica scandal. Cambridge Analytica is a now defunct political consulting firm based out of Britain. The firm used calculated and unethical methods of data collection in order to provide highly valuable information to their customers. Cambridge Analytica was actively involved in politics in dozens of countries internationally.
The ICO initially announced to the public that it would be attempting to fine facebook in July of 2018, only to officially serve the fine 3 months later. This is a common tactic done in order to catch companies off guard and not let them come up with a public statement that they can immediately release. Facebook appealed this fine, stating that they had not received any information that the ICO had on the matter, and in turn, were not being tried fairly. It’s important to note that Facebook has agreed to pay the fine only if they are to receive documents related to the case. Another stipulation of the settlement is that Facebook is not admitting liability.
Facebook profited almost 56 billion dollars in 2018. That’s just over 43 billion pounds. Because of laws in the European Union, the British government could only fine Facebook a max of 500,000 pounds. This minor fine is nothing to them, though they still chose to appeal it. It seems likely that the money had little to do with Facebook’s appeal and that they were more interested in their image as well as valuable information they could get on Cambridge Analytica. It is also possible that admitting liability could provide grounds for further prosecution in other countries such as the US. Facebook is under international scrutiny and one can understand how they would take anything they can get their hands on in order to ensure security. This information could also give them insight into CA’s methods that might help them with future advertising tactics. While it’s important that Facebook is not being let off the leash, as this could incentivize them to prioritize security in the future, we must understand that this monetarily was nothing but a drop in the bucket.