Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has been castigated for announcing that her office intends to fine Facebook £500,000 over the misuse of data for political advertising before the company has even had a chance to respond, amid concerns that it could set a worrying precedent for other firms dealing with the regulator.
Andrew Parsons, a partner at law firm Womble Bond Dickinson, points out it is highly rare for the ICO to publicly announce that it intends to fine someone before it actually levies the fine.
He added: “Given the reputation damage that can be done by a fine, this does not seem a fair course of action before a final decision has been taken.
“It tends to suggest that the ICO is not really interested in what Facebook’s response might be. Hopefully this is an exceptional case and not a change of strategy as that would make interacting with the ICO quite difficult.”
Last year, Denham was accused of pandering to the media when an adjudication against the British Heart Foundation and the RSPCA on wealth screening appeared in the Daily Mail 48 hours before its official release.
At the time, the ICO denied any wrongdoing, but a number of senior figures in the charity sector expressed serious concerns over the issue.
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