December 09, 2019

Article at The Inquirer

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FTC confirms Cambridge Analytica were wrong'uns

FTC confirms Cambridge Analytica were wrong'uns
Facebook doesn't want to be their friends any more

YOU MAY WANT to sit down before you read this. It turns out Cambridge Analytica - the company that turned mundane Facebook data into electoral gold (or at least bronze) before exploding in a fire of righteous outrage from privacy activists - weren't entirely above board.

The Federal Trade Commissions (FTC) has compiled its verdict on the company, and it's a unanimous and damning one: "The data analytics and consulting company Cambridge Analytica, LLC engaged in deceptive practices to harvest personal information from tens of millions of Facebook users for voter profiling and targeting."

That may sound mild, but in FTC verdict terms, it's a glove slap to the face.

Additionally, the FTC found that Cambridge Analytica was deceptive in its participation in the EU-US Privacy Shield framework, which legally allows data to cross the Atlantic. Not only did it allow its certification to lapse, but it "failed to adhere to the Privacy Shield requirement that companies that cease participation in the Privacy Shield affirm to the Department of Commerce." We're shocked. Shocked.

So what does this mean then? In practical terms, very little. Firstly, Cambridge Analytica is forbidden from misrepresenting the privacy and confidentiality it provides for its data. With the best will in the world, that ship has not only already sailed, but subsequently sunk to the bottom of the ocean.

Secondly, the organisation is prevented from participating in the EU-US Privacy Shield framework. But given the company shut up shop last year, it wasn't exactly planning on doing so anyway.

"In addition, the company is required to continue to apply Privacy Shield protections to personal information it collected while participating in the program (or to provide other protections authorised by law), or return or delete the information," the verdict concludes. "It also must delete the personal information that it collected through the GSRApp."

Between this and the $5bn fine imposed on Facebook for its various privacy snafus, Mark Zuckerberg will be hoping this finally turns the page on the worst chapter in Facebook's short history. We can't wait to see what horrors lurk in the next one… µ

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