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Facebook should be fined billions for data breach, campaigners say

FACEBOOK’s £500,000 fine is “unacceptable” and the social media giant should be made to pay billions in damages for the Cambridge Analytica scandal, campaigners said today.

Fair Vote UK is preparing to launch civil action against the company, alleging that 1.1 million British citizens were affected by the data breach.

Worldwide, an estimated 87m Facebook users are believed to have had information stolen from their profiles.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has said that it intends to fine Facebook for contravention of the Data Protection Act in the UK.

But as the breaches took place before the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced in May, the maximum fine it can impose is £500,000.

Under the GDPR, the ICO could have fined Facebook for £479m.

Fair Vote UK director Kyle Taylor said that Facebook must be held accountable “for their violations of British citizens’ data.”

He added: “Fair Vote UK is preparing a class action claim against Facebook which already has 84 claimants.

“All those impacted by the data breach can join the claim. People can check if they were impacted and join the claim on our website.”

Facebook’s market value is reported to be around £433bn, while chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is said to be worth around £60bn.

As a data controller, Facebook was responsible for ensuring that third-party applications on its site complied with data protection laws, but users’ data was harvested by the This Is Your Digital Life app and then obtained by Cambridge Analytica.

The ICO says it has the power to impose a civil monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £17m — or 4 per cent of its global turnover — under the GDPR, but Fair Vote UK claims that Facebook could face damages “in the billions of pounds” if it is found liable by a court.

Privacy International has said the ICO decision highlights “how serious and rampant misuse and exploitation” of data is.

A spokesperson said: “While scandals come and go, data exploitation persists and the ICO’s investigation shows that corporate talking points and PR campaigns are not good enough.”

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