Data showing a person The European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes effect in May, but many companies outside Europe have only recently awakened to the fact that GDPR affects them. (Image: Shutterstock)

With revelations that the political advertising company Cambridge Analytica mined millions of Facebook accounts without users' consent, Facebook Inc. may be subject to a British investigation that could lead to fines as high as £500,000 ($700,000). While the company also faces potential U.S. sanctions, in Europe the timing works out in Facebook's favor: If the scandal had happened two months from now, it might have been covered by a new European law that allows penalties as high as 4 percent of a company's global revenue, or in Facebook's case, more than $1.5 billion.

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