As such it has served Facebook with a notice of intent to fine the biz, and if the sum is coughed up by the web giant as expected, it will be the biggest fine issued by the ICO.
Social media giant Facebook was dealt a blow this morning when a prominent United Kingdom watchdog said it planned to impose a maximum fine on the company for two breaches of the Data Protection Act.
It is the largest possible penalty that can be handed out by Britain's information watchdog, which found the social media giant had broken the law by failing to safeguard millions of users' data.
Without detailing how the information may have been used, it said the company had "failed to be transparent about how people's data was harvested by others". Had the breach occurred after May this year, Facebook may have faced a far greater fine under the new data protection law, a maximum of 4pc of global turnover or €20m (£18m), whichever was highest.
Facebook said the company illicitly gained access to personal information of up to 87 million users via an academic intermediary, although the firm said the number was much smaller than that. "But this can not be at the expense of transparency, fairness and compliance with the law", she said in a statement.
"Trust and confidence in the integrity of our democratic processes risk being disrupted because the average voter has little idea of what is going on behind the scenes", she said. The British agency said Facebook may have had a "missed opportunity" in 2014 to have thwarted Kogan's activities on the site.
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Facebook hit with U.K. fine over user privacy
A Facebook spokeswoman said the company was cooperating fully with an investigation by Australia's privacy commissioner. That's despite earlier estimates that 2.7 million users in the European Union had their data improperly shared.
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Facebook's chief privacy officer Erin Egan said: 'We should have done more to investigate claims about Cambridge Analytica and take action in 2015.
Damian Collins, the chairman of the U.K. Parliament's media committee, said Wednesday that the company "should now make the results of their internal investigations known to the ICO, our committee and other relevant investigatory authorities".
The ICO isn't just looking at Facebook and Cambridge Analytica-indeed, it folded this affair into a pre-existing investigation into the use of data analytics in political campaigns.
OAIC is conducting its own investigation into whether Facebook breached the Privacy Act, which obligates organisations to ensure customers are notified about the collection and handling of their personal information.
"If other developers broke the law we have a right to know, and the users whose data may have been compromised in this way should be informed".
The U.K.'s probe adopted a wide lens, focusing not only on Facebook but the ecosystem of players - totaling 172 organizations and 285 individuals - involved in the collection and sale of data about web users for political purposes. The number of Facebook users affected by this kind of data scraping may be far greater than has now been acknowledged.