Facebook fined 500,000 for data breach

The fine is tiny when stacked up against the firm's worth but the scandal had happened before tougher penalties were introduced.

Facebook is to be hit with the maximum £500,000 fine over data protection breaches related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The UK's information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, said she would fine the social network as her office investigates how data belonging to tens of millions of users was improperly accessed. The amount is the maximum allowed under the Data Protection Act 1998, but is pocket change for a company valued last year at around £445bn. The scandal took place before new EU data protection laws that allow much larger fines came into force.

Facebook, along with consultancy Cambridge Analytica, has been the focus of the investigation since February when evidence emerged that an app was used to harvest the data of 50 million Facebook users across the world. Cambridge Analytica used data from millions of Facebook accounts to help Donald Trump's 2016 presidential election campaign.

Facebook will have the opportunity to respond to the commissioner before a final decision is made, the company said it would do soon. The ICO said its investigation is continuing and the next phase is expected to be concluded by the end of October.