Facebook investigated by Australian privacy watchdog over suspected data-sharing


Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Facebook investigated by Australian privacy watchdog over suspected data-sharing” was written by Michael McGowan, for theguardian.com on Thursday 5th April 2018 09.22 Asia/Kolkata

Australia’s privacy commissioner has launched an investigation to determine whether Facebook breached the Australian privacy act. The investigation was announced after the US social media giant revealed up to one in 50 local users may have had their personal information accessed by Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook has admitted 311,127 Australian users are likely among the up to 87 million users worldwide whose data was unknowingly and “improperly” shared with the British political consultancy agency.

“All organisations that are covered by the Privacy Act have obligations in relation to the personal information that they hold,” the acting information and privacy commissioner, Angelene Falk, said on Thursday. “This includes taking reasonable steps to ensure that personal information is held securely, and ensuring that customers are adequately notified about the collection and handling of their personal information.”

Facebook’s chief technology officer, Mike Schroepfer, published a statement overnight that revealed the data of up to 87 million people across the globe had been shared with the analytics firm – 37 million more than previously reported.

The 311,127 Australians who Facebook suspects had their data shared amount to 0.4% of the users affected by the data breach. Cambridge Analytica used the data to support the election campaign of the US president, Donald Trump, and the Leave campaign in the UK Brexit referendum.

In a conference call with reporters shortly after the new figure was revealed, Mark Zuckerberg said the company “didn’t take a broad enough view on what our responsibility was and that was a huge mistake. That was my mistake.”

Schroepfer, in his blogpost, outlined sweeping changes to the way third-party developers could interact with Facebook via APIs – the digital interfaces through which third parties can interact with and extract data from the platform.

The company also said that from 9 April it will begin showing Facebook users what apps they use and the information they have shared.

As part of that, Schroepfer said the company would tell users if their information could have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.

The new figures on how many Facebook users might have had their data compromised come after the Guardian and Observer revealed the data analytics firm worked with Donald Trump’s election team and the Leave campaign in the UK Brexit referendum.

The data was used to build a software program to predict and influence voters. Facebook discovered the information had been harvested by a third party in late 2015, but failed to alert users at the time.

The data was collected through an app called thisisyourdigitallife, built by Cambridge University academic Aleksandr Kogan through his company Global Science Research in collaboration with Cambridge Analytica. Hundreds of thousands of users were paid a small fee to take a personality test and they consented to have their data collected.

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Facebook investigated by Australian privacy watchdog over suspected data-sharing | NORTH INDIA KALEIDOSCOPE

Rajesh Ahuja

I am a veteran journalist based in Chandigarh India.I joined the profession in June 1982 and worked as a Staff Reporter with the National Herald at Delhi till June 1986. I joined The Hindu at Delhi in 1986 as a Staff Reporter and was promoted as Special Correspondent in 1993 and transferred to Chandigarh. I left The Hindu in September 2012 and launched my own newspaper ventures including this news portal and a weekly newspaper NORTH INDIA KALEIDOSCOPE (currently temporarily suspended).