By gathering personal information in the millions, British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica actually scammed Facebook users. This is the confirmed ruling coming from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) this morning.
FTC’s unanimous opinion is that Cambridge Analytica, app developer Aleksandr Kogan, together with former Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix, teamed up to allow Kogan’s app GSRApp "to collect Facebook data from app users and their Facebook friends" through a personality-testing app.
The scam part lies in the fact that the app promised its users it wouldn’t collect personally identifiable information (PII). As we now know, the app not only collected names and other PII, but it also offered it to US political campaigns for voter profiling and microtargeting, among other things.
By scamming users, Cambridge Analytica also violated Privacy Shield, a transatlantic framework regulating the use of data. Privacy Shield forces businesses to protect EU data going across the pond.
Both Kogan and Nix decided to settle, while Cambridge Analytica kept quiet on both the complaint and the motion, which was submitted for summary judgement. According to ZDNet, the company is currently under process of filing for bankruptcy.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has fined Facebook with $5bn for the incident, after the vote went 3-2 for the fine. According to the BBC, the fine still needs to be finalised by the civil division of the Department of Justice. That may take a while, as no one really knows how long the DoJ will take.
If this really pulls through, it would mean the biggest fine the FTC has ever imposed on any tech company.