Friday November 15, 2019
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Facebook Fined in U.K. Over Cambridge Analytica Leak

Over the period, it emerged that Facebook had failed to ensure that Cambridge Analytica had deleted personal data harvested about millions of its members in breach of the platform's rules

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LinkedIn faced probe for Facebook ads targeting 18 mn non-members. Pixabay

UK’s data protection watchdog plans to slap a fine of 500,000 pounds ($662,501) on Facebook over the Cambridge Analytica data leak scandal. This is the highest permitted fine under Britain’s data protection law.

In its investigation, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found that Facebook broke British law by failing to safeguard people’s information, and by not revealing how people’s data was harvested by others.

Along with Cambridge Analytica, Facebook has been the focus of the investigation since February when evidence emerged that an app had been used to harvest the data of an estimated 87 million Facebook users across the world.

In its latest progress report, the regulator also said it intended to take criminal action against Cambridge Analytica’s defunct parent company SCL Elections, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

The regulator also said Aggregate IQ — which worked with the Vote Leave campaign — must stop processing UK citizens’ data. It has also written to UK’s 11 main political parties compelling them to have their data protection practices audited.

This, the Information Commissioner’s Office explained, was in part because it was concerned they could have bought lifestyle information about members of the public from data brokers, who might have not obtained the necessary consent.

In particular, ICO raised concern about one data broker: Emma’s Diary. The firm offers medical advice to pregnant women and gift packs after babies are born.

Facebook mobile app
Facebook mobile app. Pixabay

ICO said it was concerned about how transparent the firm had been about its political activities. The Labour Party had confirmed using the firm, but did not provide other details at this point beyond saying it intended to take some form of regulatory action.

The service’s owner Lifecycle Marketing could not be reached for comment. But it has told the Guardian that it does not agree with the ICO’s findings.

The ICO’s action comes 16 months after it began the ongoing probe into political campaigns’ use of personal data during the Brexit referendum campaign.

Over the period, it emerged that Facebook had failed to ensure that Cambridge Analytica had deleted personal data harvested about millions of its members in breach of the platform’s rules.

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

Before its collapse, Cambridge Analytica insisted it had indeed wiped the data after Facebook’s erasure request in December 2015.

But ICO said it had seen evidence that copies of the data had been shared with others.

“This potentially brings into question the accuracy of the deletion certificates provided to Facebook,” it said. (IANS)

Next Story

India Second to US in Demanding Facebook User Data, Requests Up by 37%

Globally, in the first half of 2019, government requests for user data increased by 16 per cent from 110,634 to 128,617

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India, US, Facebook
The US government sent Facebook total 50,741 requests about users' data in the same period. Pixabay

The Indian government was second to the US in requesting Facebook for access to users’ data in the first six months of this year — an increase of nearly 37 per cent from the second half (July-December period) last year.India

The Indian government sent Facebook 22,684 queries about users in the above mentioned period and the social networking giant provided data in 54 per cent of the request, according to Facebook’s Transparency Report.

The US government sent Facebook total 50,741 requests about users’ data in the same period.

Globally, in the first half of 2019, government requests for user data increased by 16 per cent from 110,634 to 128,617.

India, US, Facebook
The Indian government sent Facebook 22,684 queries about users in the above mentioned period and the social networking giant provided data in 54 per cent of the request, according to Facebook’s Transparency Report. Pixabay

“Of the total volume, the US continues to submit the largest number of requests, followed by India, the UK, Germany and France,” said Chris Sonderby, VP & Deputy General Counsel, said in a statement on Thursday.

In the US, Facebook received 50,741 requests, representing an increase of 23 per cent more requests than last half, which is consistent with trends over time.

“We always scrutinise every government request we receive for account data to make sure it is legally valid. This is true no matter which government makes the request.

“If a request appears to be deficient or overly broad, we push back, and will fight in court, if necessary. We do not provide governments with a back doors’ to people’s information,” said Sonderby.

Also Read- Apple Releases Second Developer Beta of MacOS Catalina 10.15.2

During the reporting period, the volume of content restrictions based on local law decreased globally by 50 per cent from 35,972 to 17,807.

“This decrease follows an unusual spike last half in which we restricted 16,600 items in India based on a Delhi High Court order. Of the total volume, 58 per cent of restrictions originated from Pakistan and Mexico,” said Facebook.

The company also identified 67 disruptions of Facebook services in 15 countries, compared to 53 disruptions in nine countries in the second half of 2018.

“During this reporting period, we took down 3,234,393 pieces of content based on 568,836 copyright reports, 255,222 pieces of content based on 96,501 trademark reports and 821,727 pieces of content based on 101,582 counterfeit reports,” informed Facebook. (IANS)