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Facebook shares fall as UK watchdog plans maximum £500,000 fine for tech giant

Facebook shares closed lower Tuesday as the UK’s information watchdog announced its intention to impose the maximum fine on the social media platform. The fine is for breaches of the UK’s data protection policy as Facebook didn’t ensure users’ personal data was deleted when it should have been.

Cambridge Analytica owner SCL Elections, meanwhile, could be facing criminal charges for its data protection breaches, the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) added.

Facebook shares ended the US Tuesday session 0.59% lower at $203.54. The stock has been moving broadly higher in recent weeks.

Facebook’s UK data protection fine

The ICO issued an announcement Tuesday, detailing the findings from its investigation into Facebook’s data practices. The investigation began in March 2017 and from February 2018 has been centred on the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

“The ICO’s investigation concluded that Facebook contravened the law by failing to safeguard people’s information,” the ICO said. “It also found that the company failed to be transparent about how people’s data was harvested by others.”

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham, added that this investigation highlights the importance of ensuring consumers and users of social media understand exactly what they’re agreeing to when they submit personal data and also, the rules that tech companies and other business must follow.

“Trust and confidence in the integrity of our democratic processes risk being disrupted because the average voter has little idea of what is going on behind the scenes,” Denham said.

“Fines and prosecutions punish the bad actors, but my real goal is to effect change and restore trust and confidence in our democratic system,” she added.

Facebook’s fine calculated under older rules

The half-a-million-pound fine is the maximum the ICO is able to impose in this instance. That’s because the action against the social media behemoth was brought under the UK’s 1998 Data Protection Act.

Had the action been taken under the new GDPR rules, the fine could have been much larger.

Facebook has an opportunity to respond to the findings of the ICO’s investigation before the fine is officially imposed.

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