ICO responds to Facebook call on governments to tighten internet regulation

Facebook

The Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham has spoken out following Mark Zuckerberg’s demands for governments to do more to control what gets broadcast over the internet.

Last week, the Facebook chief had an op-ed published in the Washington Post, in which he described how regulation needed to be standardised in areas including privacy, election integrity, and data protection systems.

Denham has now asked Facebook to drop its appeal over an ongoing data protection fine case, reminding the social network that it still has its plate full with regard to regulation compliancy.

In a statement made yesterday, the Information Commissioner said:

“In light of Mark Zuckerberg’s statements over the weekend about the need for increased regulation across four areas, including privacy, I expect Facebook to review their current appeal against the ICO’s £500,000 fine – the maximum available under the old rules – for contravening UK privacy laws.”

The fine Denham is talking about is the maximum £500,000 penalty of the Data Protection Act 1998, which was issued to the social media giant for its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

ICO investigations discovered that between 2007 and 2014, Facebook had processed the personal details of account holders unfairly by allowing a third-party app to access user information without clear and informed consent.

Even individuals who had not downloaded the app at the centre of the controversy were impacted, because details of victims’ friends were also harvested.

Facebook’s downfall was its failure to check what the app was doing with the illicitly obtained data, which was subsequently passed on to data intelligence firm, Cambridge Analytica. The UK-based company then used the information to construct voter profiles and drive targeted political advert campaigns on Facebook in the run up to US presidential election rounds in 2014 and 2016.

The entire episode has since become an example of how not to treat user data in the GDPR era.

Since revelations of the scandal broke around 12 months ago, Mark Zuckerberg’s has been quick to take a responsible tone when talking about user data, only for efforts to rebuild corporate reputation to be subsequently undermined by a series of embarrassing data privacy episodes throughout the remainder of 2018.

In reaction to Denham’s fresh request to drop its appeal against being fined, Facebook told IT Pro that it feels the tech industry needs more regulation, and that it still disagrees with some regulators regarding decisions taken.

The social media platform reiterated the stance established in a statement released in November of last year:

“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,” the statement read.

“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,” it added.


PrivSec Conferences will bring together leading speakers and experts from privacy and security to deliver compelling content via solo presentations, panel discussions, debates, roundtables and workshops.

For more information on upcoming events, visit the website.

We have been awarded the number 1 GDPR Blog in 2019 by Feedspot.

Privacy Culture: Data Privacy and Information Security Consulting, Culture & Behaviour, Training, and GDPR maturity, covered. https://www.privacyculture.com/