Facebook to pay symbolic fine in Cambridge Analytica settlement

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(Bloomberg) --Facebook Inc. agreed to pay a fine of 500,000 pounds ($644,000) to end a U.K. privacy probe in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The social network giant has withdrawn its appeal of the fine levied last year, settling the case without any admission of guilt, the U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office said in a statement on Wednesday.

“We are pleased to hear that Facebook has taken, and will continue to take, significant steps to comply with the fundamental principles of data protection,” James Dipple-Johnstone, deputy commissioner at the ICO said. “With this strong commitment to protecting people’s personal information and privacy, we expect that Facebook will be able to move forward and learn from the events of this case."

Revelations last year that data belonging to millions of Facebook users and their friends may have been misused triggered a global backlash from investors and regulators. The ICO had led the European investigations into how such an amount of data -- most belonging to U.S. and U.K. residents -- could have ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica, a consulting firm that worked on Donald Trump’s U.S. presidential campaign.

Harry Kinmonth, Facebook’s associate general counsel, said in the ICO statement that protecting people’s information and privacy is “a top priority” and that the company is “continuing to build new controls to help people protect and manage their information.”

He added that the ICO “has stated that it has not discovered evidence that the data of Facebook users in the EU was transferred to Cambridge Analytica” by researcher Aleksandr Kogan. “However, we look forward to continuing to cooperate with the ICO’s wider and ongoing investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes.”

The ICO had accused the U.S. company of unfairly processing user data between 2007 and 2014 and granting app developers access without clear consent.

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