Facebook has launched an appeal against the £500,000 fine issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office, claiming that the regulator found no evidence that UK users’ personal data had been shared inappropriately.
The ICO’s investigation found that between 2007 and 2014, Facebook processed the personal information of users unfairly by allowing app developers access to their information without sufficiently clear and informed consent, and allowing access even if users had not downloaded the app, but were simply ‘friends’ with people who had.
These failings meant one developer, Dr Aleksandr Kogan and his company GSR, harvested the Facebook data of up to 87 million people worldwide, without their knowledge. A subset of this data was later shared with other organisations, including SCL Group, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica.
The ICO found that the personal information of at least one million UK users was among the harvested data and consequently put at risk of further misuse.
But in a statement released today, Facebook head of regulatory and litigation Anna Benckert said: “The ICO’s investigation stemmed from concerns that UK citizens’ data may have been impacted by Cambridge Analytica, yet they now have confirmed that they have found no evidence to suggest that information of Facebook users in the UK was ever shared by Dr Kogan with Cambridge Analytica, or used by its affiliates in the Brexit referendum.
“Therefore, the core of the ICO’s argument no longer relates to the events involving Cambridge Analytica. Instead, their reasoning challenges some of the basic principles of how people should be allowed to share information online, with implications which go far beyond just Facebook, which is why we have chosen to appeal.
“For example, under the ICO’s theory people should not be allowed to forward an email or message without having agreement from each person on the original thread.
“These are things done by millions of people every day on services across the internet, which is why we believe the ICO’s decision raises important questions of principle for everyone online which should be considered by an impartial court based on all the relevant evidence.”
All appeals against ICO penalties are heard at the First Tier Information Rights Tribunal.
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