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US Senators Introduce Bill to Ban Social Media from Tricking Users in Giving up their Personal Data

"Misleading prompts to just click the 'OK' button can often transfer your contacts, messages, browsing activity, photos, or location information without you even realizing it"

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facebook, personal data
FILE - A man poses for a photo in front of a computer showing Facebook ad preferences in San Francisco, California, March 26, 2018. VOA

Two U.S. senators introduced a bill on Tuesday to ban online social media companies like Facebook and Twitter from tricking consumers into giving up their personal data.

The bill from Mark Warner, a Democrat, and Deb Fischer, a Republican, would also ban online platforms with more than 100 million monthly active users from designing addicting games or other websites for children under age 13.

The bill takes aim at practices that online platforms use to mislead people into giving personal data to companies or otherwise trick them. The so-called “dark patterns” were developed using behavioral psychology.

“Misleading prompts to just click the ‘OK’ button can often transfer your contacts, messages, browsing activity, photos, or location information without you even realizing it,” Fischer said in a statement issued by both senators.

personal data, social media
The bill takes aim at practices that online platforms use to mislead people into giving personal data to companies or otherwise trick them. Pixabay

Restrictions on how social media companies collect information about users could hurt their ability to sell advertisements, a key source of profit.

A website aimed at tracking dark patterns identifies behavior, such as a website or app showing that a user has new notifications when they do not.

Warner said in an interview on CNBC that the legislation could be included in a federal privacy bill that lawmakers in the Senate Commerce Committee are drafting. Congress has been expected to take up privacy legislation after California passed a strict privacy law that goes into effect next year.

Warner noted that Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, Google and others have expressed support for privacy regulation.

social media, personal data
The bill from Mark Warner, a Democrat, and Deb Fischer, a Republican, would also ban online platforms with more than 100 million monthly active users from designing addicting games or other websites for children under age 13. Pixabay

“The platform companies are now going to have an opportunity to put their money where their mouth is, to see if they support this legislation and other approaches,” he said.

The bill would bar companies from choosing groups of people for behavioral experiments unless the companies get informed consent.

ALSO READ: Facebook Uses AI to Find Profiles of Dead Friends so that People don’t Receive Birthday Reminders

Under the terms of the bill, social media companies would create a professional standards body to create best practices to deal with the issue. The Federal Trade Commission, which investigates deceptive advertising, would work with the group.

Facebook, Google, Twitter and other free online services rely on advertising for revenue, and use data collected on users to more effectively target those ads. (VOA)

Next Story

Group of Hackers Upload Personal Data of US Federal Agents Online

The FBI is yet to speak on the incident

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cyber attacks, hackers
Representational image. Pixabay

A group of hackers has broken into several FBI-affiliated portals and uploaded the contents online that contained personal information of federal agents and law enforcement officers.

According to a TechCrunch report late Friday, the hackers breached three websites associated with the FBI National Academy Association located at the FBI training academy in Quantico, Virginia.

The hackers “exploited flaws on at least three of the organisation’s chapter websites – which we’re not naming – and downloaded the contents of each web server,” the report said.

The hacker claimed to have “over a million data” on employees across several federal agencies and public service organisations in the US.

They also put the data up for download on their own website.

hacker
The hackers “exploited flaws on at least three of the organisation’s chapter websites – which we’re not naming – and downloaded the contents of each web server,” the report said. Pixabay

“We hacked more than 1,000 sites. Now we are structuring all the data, and soon they will be sold. I think something else will publish from the list of hacked government sites,” a hacker told TechCrunch.

The data contains member names, a mix of personal and government email addresses, job titles, phone numbers and postal addresses.

Also Read- Facebook ‘Plans’ to Bring Chat Back into Main App

The hackers, whose identity is still unknown whether they are an independent group or nation-state actors, used public exploits, indicating that “many of the websites they hit weren’t up-to-date and had outdated plugins”.

The FBI was yet to speak on the incident. (IANS)