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Following Facebook Privacy Crisis, Cambridge Analytica to Shut Down

The UK's Financial Times newspaper said it has spoken to another ex-employee of Cambridge Analytica, on condition of anonymity, who said they were sure the company would emerge "in some other incarnation or guise".

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Cambridge Analytica, the political consultancy firm at the centre of the Facebook data-sharing scandal, is shutting down, media reported.

The firm was accused of improperly obtaining personal information on behalf of political clients.

According to Facebook, data of up to 87 million of its users was harvested by a quiz app and then passed on to the political consultancy.

The social network said its own probe into the matter would continue, the BBC reported.

“This doesn’t change our commitment and determination to understand exactly what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said a spokesman.

“We are continuing with our investigation in cooperation with the relevant authorities.”

Clarence Mitchell, a spokesman for Cambridge Analytica, referred the BBC to a statement on the firm’s website.

“Over the past several months, Cambridge Analytica has been the subject of numerous unfounded accusations and, despite the company’s efforts to correct the record, has been vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas,” it said.

“Despite Cambridge Analytica’s unwavering confidence that its employees have acted ethically and lawfully… the siege of media coverage has driven away virtually all of the company’s customers and suppliers.

"Despite Cambridge Analytica's unwavering confidence that its employees have acted ethically and lawfully... the siege of media coverage has driven away virtually all of the company's customers and suppliers.
Cambridge Analytica, IANS

“As a result, it has been determined that it is no longer viable to continue operating the business.”

The statement added that its parent company SCL Elections was also commencing bankruptcy proceedings.

The UK’s Financial Times newspaper said it has spoken to another ex-employee of Cambridge Analytica, on condition of anonymity, who said they were sure the company would emerge “in some other incarnation or guise”.

The Observer journalist whose investigation first exposed the data privacy scandal has suggested that the public remain sceptical.

The chair of a UK parliament committee investigating the firm’s activities also raised concerns about Cambridge Analytica and SCL Elections’ move.

“They are party to very serious investigations and those investigations cannot be impeded by the closure of these companies,” said parliamentarian Damian Collins.

“I think it’s absolutely vital that the closure of these companies is not used as an excuse to try and limit or restrict the ability of the authorities to investigate what they were doing,” the BBC quoted Collins as saying.

In March, Channel 4 aired undercover footage of Cambridge Analytica’s CEO, Alexander Nix, giving examples of how the firm could swing elections around the world with underhand tactics such as smear campaigns and honey traps.

Also Read: Facebook Can Help Older People Feel Less Lonely 

The UK-based company, which denies any wrongdoing, has an extensive record of working abroad on many election campaigns, including in Italy, Kenya and Nigeria.

Cambridge Analytica’s chief executive Alexander Nix was suspended in March after the Channel 4 News footage was aired.

In April, Cambridge Analytica said it had only licensed 30 million records belonging to US citizens from the quiz app’s creator Aleksandr Kogan, and that they had not been used in the US presidential election.

The firm added that it had since deleted all the information despite claims to the contrary by others. (IANS)

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Facebook Is Planning To launch It’s Own Satellite ‘ATHENA’

A high altitude platform station (HAPS) system, Aquila's mission, according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, was to connect the world and help people who do not have online access all the opportunities of the Internet.

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Facebook is working on launching Athena, its own Internet satellite, early in 2019, the WIRED reported. Pixabay

 As part of its plan to connect billions of people who are still offline, Facebook is working on launching Athena, its own Internet satellite, early in 2019, the WIRED reported.

According to an application Facebook appears to have filed with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under the name PointView Tech LLC, the project is designed to “efficiently provide broadband access to unserved and underserved areas throughout the world,” the report said on Friday.

Facebook, however, is not alone in aiming to increase Internet accessibility through satellites in low Earth orbit. Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Softbank-backed OneWeb are two other prominent names who have similar ambitions.

Facebook also confirmed that Athena is their project, according to the report in the WIRED.

“While we have nothing to share about specific projects at this time, we believe satellite technology will be an important enabler of the next generation of broadband infrastructure, making it possible to bring broadband connectivity to rural regions where Internet connectivity is lacking or non-existent,” a Facebook spokesperson was quoted as saying in a statement.

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The project is designed to “efficiently provide broadband access to unserved and underserved areas throughout the world,” the report said on Friday. Pixabay

While Facebook had long expressed its cherished goal of connecting billions of underserved people around the world, it has not had much success with two earlier projects.

In June, Facebook announced it decided to abandon its plan to develop high-flying solar-powered drones called Aquila that was aimed to deliver Internet to nearly four billion people in remote parts of the world.

A high altitude platform station (HAPS) system, Aquila’s mission, according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, was to connect the world and help people who do not have online access all the opportunities of the Internet.

Facebook began Aquila project in 2014. In 2017, the solar-powered drone successfully completed the second full-scale test flight.

The social network also discontinued in 2017 a small helicopter drone project that could temporarily replace cellular services in emergency situations, The Verge reported.

Also Read-Facebook’s Helicopter Drone Project Got Grounded: Report

The idea was to send a helicopter equipped with telecommunications equipment hundreds of metres up in the air to be able to tether to fibre and power lines in places where wireless capacity was compromised due to disaster or other factors. (IANS)