Information Commissioner’s Office is at the heart of Facebook’s Data Dispute

ICO to push for new rules

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Cambridge Analytica is at the center of a scandal over the misuse of Facebook’s user data. This scandal has shaken governments and has also caused the shares of Facebook to go down. When the UK firm was conducted, it did not allow investigators to access its data something which saw the Information Commissioner’s Office seek warranty to search the company.

The UK data protection watchdog is chasing Cambridge Analytica which is associated with a former US adviser Stephen K. Bannon because of the increased outrage over the increased use of internet data. Elizabeth Denham who is the Information Commissioner will be under huge pressure to act but will be limited by the law since the fine is capped at $700,000. Denham can, however, use her power to order Facebook user’s data to be protected and go on to prosecute companies which fail to meet the set standards. On its part, UK parliament wants to give the ICO more surety.

According to Venessa Barnett who is a Solicitor at Keystone Law: “From a long time ago the ICO did not have a lot of power. It’s now Elizabeth’s matter so we will wait and what move she will take.”

The Information Commissioner’s Office is leading the European investigation about what may have gone wrong with Cambridge Analytica which was accused of using data of more than 50 million Facebook users as a plan to develop a way to predict voter behavior. That was a criminal offense under the UK’s Data Protection Act, and prosecution should take place.

Denham who became in charge of the ICO in 2016 has become very outspoken about privacy regulations and has not been shy of taking on US technology giants. Before the new probe, her office ordered Facebook not to share personal data from its subsidiary app WhatsApp until all the privacy concerns are met. ICO also took uber head-on after hackers stole personal information from more than 57 million customers and also drivers in 2016.
The lack of power by regulators against the companies that breach the privacy policy will soon change when a new law is effected. The new data protection regulations will be enacted among 20 countries and will allow fines of as much as 20 million Euros or even 4% of total sales if there will serious violations.

According to James Castro-Edwards who is the head of data protection at Wedlake Bell: ‘The ICO will have a lot of power. This powers will ensure that customer data is protected.” The new law will give powers to the ICO to carry out compulsory audit if it suspects a company to be breaking data rules. In conclusion, Denham told the parliament that: “Right now I have no powers to do a compulsory audit and it should be known that the audit is a very powerful tool.”

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