Social media giant Facebook has been fined $645,000, a total which the company will make back in just about nine minutes, as estimated by Variety, by the United Kingdom over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, according to Gizmodo.
The fine is the most Facebook can legally be fined for the offense.
The fine comes after it was revealed last year that Facebook had allowed about 87 million users’ data to be harvested by the UK-based Cambridge Analytica after the firm’s CEO was caught on video bragging they helped President Trump get elected.
The firm is, in fact, credited by many, including The Guardian, as one of the many reasons Trump was able to ascend through the Republican party ranks to the presidency.
The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office even put out a statement saying the firm had taken information from British citizens, claiming “at least one million UK users [were] among the harvested data.”
“The ICO’s investigation found that 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,” the Information Commissioner’s Office said in their statement.
BREAKING: The UK has fined Facebook 500,000 pounds ($644,000) in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. https://t.co/Tlo67a2RnG
— The Associated Press (@AP) October 25, 2018
While many will see the fine as nothing other than a tiny slam on the wrist, new stricter laws will soon be implemented this year that will punish data breaches much more harshly.
“We considered these contraventions to be so serious we imposed the maximum penalty under the previous legislation. The fine would inevitably have been significantly higher under the GDPR. One of our main motivations for taking enforcement action is to drive meaningful change in how organizations handle people’s personal data,” Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said in a statement.
The European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation, otherwise known as the GDPR, will inflate penalties as high as millions of dollars, along with docking companies up to 4 percent of their revenue for the most serious offenses.
While Cambridge Analytica was forced out of business after the news of their misdeeds came out, some of the company’s former employees have found a home with the 2020 Trump re-election campaign, according to Gizmodo.
Facebook is sure to face more consequences in Europe in the coming months as well.
“Our work is continuing,” Denham said. “There are still bigger questions to be asked and broader conversations to be had about how technology and democracy interact and whether the legal, ethical and regulatory frameworks we have in place are adequate to protect the principles on which our society is based.”