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Facebook Fights UK Fine For Cambridge Analytica Scandal

Facebook plans to appeal a fine issued by the U.K.’s data watchdog in response to the social media site’s Cambridge Analytica scandal.

An estimated 1 million U.K. residents were affected by the scandal, which impacted 87 million Facebook users. Though there was no evidence that any of the U.K. users’ data was shared by third parties, the company was still hit last month with a $644,600 fine in the U.K. after the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) ruled that the social media network operator was engaged in “serious breaches of data protection.”

“Facebook failed to sufficiently protect the privacy of its users before, during and after the unlawful processing of this data,” said Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham at the time. “A company of its size and expertise should have known better, and it should have done better.”

However, Facebook will be filing an appeal against the ICO based on its claim that there is no evidence of U.K. users’ data being used.

“The ICO’s investigation stemmed from concerns that U.K. 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 U.K. was ever shared … with Cambridge Analytica, or used by its affiliates in the Brexit referendum,” said Anna Benckert, Facebook’s EMEA VP and associate general counsel, according to reports. “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 [that] go far beyond just Facebook, which is why we have chosen to appeal.”

She continued, “For example, under 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, [and] which should be considered by an impartial court based on all the relevant evidence.”

For its part, an ICO spokesperson responded: “Any organization issued with a monetary penalty notice by the Information Commissioner has the right to appeal the decision to the First-Tier Tribunal. The progression of any appeal is a matter for the tribunal. We have not yet been notified by the Tribunal that an appeal has been received.”

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