Only 53 Australians actually downloaded the Facebook app "this is your digital life" that led to the information leak and the entire Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook is now facing inquiries by the U.S. Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission.
More recent developments could leave Facebook on the hook for significantly more if this happens again.
She said: "We are at a crossroads". The ICO said it was providing the interim report to help that inquiry. In an accompanying report, Elizabeth Denham, the United Kingdom information commissioner, expressed unease with the "significant shortfall in transparency" from tech companies, political parties and others that harness sensitive bits of information online.
The ICO investigation found that Facebook "contravened the law by failing to safeguard people's information" and didn't inform its users "about how their information was harvested by others". "Whilst these concerns about Facebook's advertising model exist generally in relation to its commercial use, they are heightened when these tools are used for political campaigning". This initial report blossomed into multiple complaints about how Facebook controls the user data gathered by other companies, how much data Facebook itself stores and more.
Cambridge Analytica shut down its business in May.
As part of the Wednesday's announcement, the watchdog also announced a criminal prosecution against Cambridge Analytica's parent firm, SCL Elections, over allegations that it didn't hand over evidence related to the data misuse probe.
In the US, Facebook's role in the scandal - including whether it withheld information on Cambridge Analytica's data-harvesting operations and their response from investors, investigators, and members of Congress - has attracted the attention of at least four federal agencies. But not all the data may have been deleted, according to some reports.
"Everyone from social media firms, political parties and data brokers seem to be taking advantage of new technologies and micro-targeting techniques with very limited transparency and responsibility towards voters", she said.
Neither would be the first class action Facebook is fighting over this issue. The region's competition chief said the social media company had provided misleading information about its privacy promises during its 2014 acquisition of the messenger app WhatsApp. "The public have the right to expect that this takes place in accordance with the law as it relates to data protection and electronic marketing", they proclaimed.