Tuesday January 28, 2020
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Three Fresh Probes Over Privacy Violation hit Facebook

The US FTC judgment on Facebook’s privacy violation is slated to come later this year

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Facebook, data,photos
A television photographer shoots the sign outside of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. VOA

Three countries have opened fresh rounds of investigations against Facebook for users’ privacy violations and security lapses.

New York Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday announced a probe into Facebook harvesting email contacts for up to 1.5 million new users.

A Facebook spokesperson admitted last week that emails of 1.5 million people were harvested since May 2016 to help build Facebook’s web of social connections and recommend other users to add as friends.

“It is time Facebook is held accountable for how it handles consumers’ personal information,” James said in a statement.

“Facebook has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of respect for consumers’ information while at the same time profiting from mining that data.”

Irish data protection watchdog on Thursday opened a probe into the breach of “hundreds of millions” of Facebook and Instagram user passwords that were stored in plain-text on its servers, TechCrunch repported

The Irish data protection authority will probe Facebook under the European GDPR data protection law, which could lead to hefty fines.

facebook
FILE – A 3D printed Facebook logo is seen in front of a displayed Russian flag in this photo illustration, Aug. 3, 2018. VOA

In Canada, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner said it will take Facebook to federal court to force the social networking giant to correct its “serious contraventions” of the Canadian privacy law.

“Canadian authorities confirmed that the beleaguered social networking giant broke its strict privacy laws,” the report said,

Battling several privacy violations, Facebook has kept aside $3 billion, anticipating a record fine coming from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) related to the Cambridge Analytica data scandal that involved 87 million users.

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“In the first quarter of 2019, we reasonably estimated a probable loss and recorded an accrual of $3 billion in connection with the inquiry of the FTC into our platform and user data practices,” the social networking giant wrote in its earnings statement.

“We estimate that the range of loss in this matter is $3 billion to $5 billion,” added Facebook.

The US FTC judgment on Facebook’s privacy violation is slated to come later this year. (IANS)

Next Story

Social Networking Giant Facebook Blames Apple iOS for Bezos’ Phone Hacking

WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption by default, which means only the sender and recipient can view the messages

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Social Media, Facebook, Authenticity, Posts
The social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple's App Store, July 30, 2019. VOA

Facebook has blamed Apple’s operating system for the hacking of Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos’ phone, saying WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption is unhackable.

Investigators believe that Bezos’s iPhone was compromised after he received a 4.4MB video file containing malware via WhatsApp – in the same way when phones of 1,400 select journalists and human rights activists were broken into by Pegasus software from Israel-based NSO Group last year.

In an interview to the BBC last week, Facebook’s Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications, Nick Clegg, said it wasn’t WhatsApp’s fault because end-to-end encryption is unhackable and blamed Apple’s operating system for Bezos’ episode.

“It sounds like something on the, you know, what they call the operate, operated on the phone itself. It can’t have been anything on the, when the message was sent, in transit, because that’s end-to-end encrypted on WhatsApp,” Clegg told the show host.

Clegg compared the hack to opening a malicious email, saying that “it only comes to life when you open it”.

According to a report from FTI Consulting, a firm that has investigated Bezos’ phone, after that the video file was received, Bezos’ phone started sending unusually large amounts of outbound data, including his intimate messages with his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez.

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and owner of Blue Origin. (Wikimedia commons)

According to Clegg, “something” must have affected the phone’s operating system.

“As sure as you can be that the technology of end-to-end encryption cannot, other than unless you have handset, or you have the message at either end, cannot be hacked into,” he was quoted as saying.

Apple was yet to comment on Facebook’s statement.

The NSO Group has denied it was part of Bezos’ hacking.

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WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption by default, which means only the sender and recipient can view the messages. But the piece of NSO Group software exploited WhatsApp’s video calling system by installing the spyware via missed calls to snoop on the selected users.

According to leading tech policy and media consultant Prasanto K. Roy, end-to-end encrypted apps (E2EE) do provide security, and messages or calls cannot be intercepted and decrypted en route without enormous computing resources.

“But once anyone can get to your handset, whether a human or a piece of software, the encryption doesn’t matter anymore. Because on your handset, it’s all decrypted,” Roy told IANS recently. (IANS)