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November 26, 2018updated 30 Sep 2022 7:09am

Facebook to appeal £500,000 fine that followed Carole Cadwalladr’s data harvesting scoop on Cambridge Analytica

By PA Media Lawyer

Facebook is to lodge an appeal against the £500,000 fine issued against it over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which was broken by Observer journalist Carole Cadwalladr.

The Information Commissioner’s Office issued the fine for the social network’s role in the data scandal, which emerged earlier this year, in which millions of users’ data had been harvested from the site.

Some of this data was then shared with consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which used it to target political advertising in the United States.

News of the scandal jointly published by the Observer, the New York Times and Channel 4 News.

Facebook confirmed yesterday that it would appeal against the decision.

Its associate general counsel in Europe, Anna Benckert, said: “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. We are investigating all historic apps that had access to large amounts of information before we changed our platform policies in 2014.”

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Facebook argues that because the ICO found no evidence that UK user data was among that exposed to Cambridge Analytica, the fine no longer relates to the CA data incident.

“The ICO’s investigation stemmed from concerns that UK citizens’ data may have been impacted by Cambridge Analytica,” Benckert said.

“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 (Aleksandr) 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 argued that the same rationale meant “people should not be allowed to forward an e-mail or message without having agreement from each person on the original thread”.

She added: “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.”

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. We have not yet been notified by the tribunal that an appeal has been received.”

Picture: Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

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