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Facebook agrees to pay the UK £500K for the Cambridge Analytica scandal

But it won’t admit that it did anything wrong.
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DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS via Getty Images

Facebook may be looking ahead to the 2020 election, but it's still sweeping up debris from 2016. Today, Facebook agreed to pay the UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) £500,000 (about $644,000) for its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. As part of the deal, Facebook will not admit to any wrongdoing.

The fine was first issued in July 2018, but Facebook appealed the ruling. It said the ICO should be required to share the materials that led to its decision and that the ICO's alleged bias should be taken into consideration. A few months later, the ICO appealed Facebook's appeal. Now, both sides have agreed to drop their appeals. Facebook will pay the fine, but it will make "no admission of liability."

Financially, Facebook is getting off easy. The £500,000 fine is the maximum allowable punishment under the laws that were in place when the Cambridge Analytica scandal occurred. Had the scandal taken place after the EU's new, stricter General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) were in place, the company could be fined four percent of its global turnover (£17 million). Either way, those fines by the UK pale in comparison to the $5 billion fine that the FCC charged Facebook with for the Cambridge Analytica data breaches.

In a statement, Facebook's Director and Associate General Counsel Harry Kinmonth said:

"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 which app developers could access."

Facebook maintains that protecting users' privacy and security is its top priority, and the company says it will continue to work with the ICO to investigate the use of data analytics for political purposes.

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