Facebook is facing its first financial penalty for allowing the data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica to forage through the personal data of millions of unknowing Facebook users. A UK government office that investigated the Cambridge Analytica scandal has announced its intention to fine Facebook $663,000 for contravening the law by failing to safeguard that user information, the AP reports. The amount is the maximum that the agency, the Information Commissioner's Office, can levy for violation of Britain's data-privacy laws. The penalty is a pittance for Facebook, which generates that sum roughly every seven minutes, based on its first-quarter revenue of $11.97 billion.
But it would represent the first tangible punishment for the company's privacy scandal, which tarnished its reputation, temporarily pushed down its shares, and forced CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before Congress, but otherwise led to few lasting repercussions. Cambridge Analytica, a London firm financed by wealthy Republican donors, worked for the 2016 Trump campaign and for a while employed Steve Bannon. According to former Cambridge Analytica data scientist Christopher Wylie, a whistleblower, the firm aimed to construct psychographic profiles it could use to sway the votes of susceptible individuals. Cambridge Analytica shut down its business in May. The alleged offenses took place before the rollout of new European Union data protection laws that allow for much larger fines.
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