Facebook Drops Appeal of U.K. Cambridge Analytica Fine

The company will pay just £500,000 ($644,731) and admit no wrongdoing

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Cambridge Analytica shut down and filed for bankruptcy in May 2018. Getty Images
Headshot of David Cohen

Facebook’s slap on the wrist from the U.K. over the Cambridge Analytica scandal is in the record books, as the company agreed to pay a £500,000 ($644,731) fine, without being forced to admit any wrongdoing.

The Information Commissioner’s Office, the privacy regulator in the U.K., imposed its maximum financial penalty on Facebook, but that figure pales in comparison to the $16.886 billion in revenue reported by the company in the second quarter.

The ICO was limited to a £500,000 fine because the actions took place prior to the enactment of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation May 25, 2018.

The fine was originally imposed last October, but Facebook appealed, withdrawing its appeal this week.

Facebook associate general counsel Harry Kinmonth said in a statement, “We are pleased to have reached a settlement with the ICO. As we have said before, we wish we had done more to investigate claims about Cambridge Analytica in 2015. We made major changes to our platform back then, significantly restricting the information that application developers could access. Protecting people‚Äôs information and privacy is a top priority for Facebook, and we are continuing to build new controls to help people protect and manage their information. The ICO has stated that it has not discovered evidence that the data of Facebook users in the EU was transferred to Cambridge Analytica by (Cambridge University researcher) Aleksandr Kogan. However, we look forward to continuing to cooperate with the ICO‚Äôs wider and ongoing investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes.”

And ICO deputy commissioner James Dipple-Johnstone said in a statement, ” The ICO welcomes the agreement reached with Facebook for the withdrawal of its appeal against our monetary penalty notice and agreement to pay the fine. The ICO‚Äôs main concern was that U.K. citizen data was exposed to a serious risk of harm. Protection of personal information and personal privacy is of fundamental importance not only for the rights of individuals, but also, as we now know, for the preservation of a strong democracy. We are pleased to hear that Facebook has taken, and will continue to take, significant steps to comply with the fundamental principles of data protection. With this strong commitment to protecting people‚Äôs personal information and privacy, we expect that Facebook will be able to move forward and learn from the events of this case.”

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.