Facebook may have to pay a multi-billion dollar fine for violating its users' privacy—or face a lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission.The FTC has been investigating Facebook and is negotiating with the company "over a multi-billion dollar fine that would settle the agency's investigation," The Washington Post reported yesterday, citing "people familiar with the probe."New York Times sources also confirmed that the current negotiations "could amount to a record, multibillion-dollar fine."The investigation focuses on whether Facebook violated the terms of a 2011 settlement with the FTC.The settlement prohibited Facebook from misrepresenting the privacy or security of user information, and it required Facebook to get consumers' express consent before making changes that override their privacy settings.The current investigation began in March 2018, after revelations that up to 87 million users' information was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm that did work for Donald Trump's presidential campaign.
Requirement threatens to break the bankTo prevent a data grabbing snafu along the lines of Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal, Google is asking developers who use sensitive Gmail APIs to pay for a security audit that proves their apps play by the rules.And the cost – anywhere from $15,000 to $75,000 or more, every year – could put some smaller companies out of business."The impact is massive," said James Ivings, co-founder of SquareCat, in an email to The Register.His company makes, among other things, a bulk email unsubscription app called Leave Me Alone.The situation underscores the business risks of relying on platform rules that are subject to change at any time but not subject to neutral oversight.
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ET on Wednesday, Facebook sent me an update about the controversial market research program revealed on Tuesday by TechCrunch.Facebook is treating this as a critical problem internally, we’re told, as the affected apps simply don’t launch on employees’ phones anymore.For Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook and its fellow ad-supported tech giant, Google, make for convenient punching bags.By invalidating Facebook’s enterprise certificate today, Cook flipped one of his lesser switches.In the words of my boss, Nilay Patel:Hi, I’m the nagging voice in the back of your head pointing out that it’s pretty intense that Apple can simply decide to prevent people from running code on their phones.
Advocacy groups: Force 'em to 'disgorge' data slurped up from Instagram, WhatsAppThe Federal Trade Commission has resumed work today, including its probe into Facebook, and is being urged by advocacy groups to hand the organisation a $2bn fine and break up the social networking empire.The FTC launched its investigation after last year's Cambridge Analytica scandal led to various admissions about the scale of data shared with developers and other companies.The work had been put on ice during the US government's 35-day shutdown – the longest in its history – but the agency is back in the saddle as of today.In a letter (PDF) to the agency, nine groups, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Government Accountability Project, said Facebook had "operated for too long with too little democratic accountability".The group said it was remarkable that the FTC hadn't imposed a single fine against Facebook since it handed down its consent decree in 2011, despite what the group said were "repeated violations".
It hasn’t even finished dealing with the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but fresh documents unveiled by a US Judge suggest Facebook knowingly duped minors into spending hundreds of dollars.After legal action from Reveal, District Judge for the Northern District of California Beth Freeman unsealed 135 pages of internal memos and conversations (dated between 2010 and 2014), detailing in-depth strategies to maximise revenues from what the firm describes as Friendly Fraud minors (FF minors).Before we delve too deeply into the criticism of Facebook, it should be noted there were objections raised internally.Tara Stewart, one of the social media firm’s software engineers, raised concerns on several occasions, even suggested ways in which the risk of securing revenues from FF-minors could be reduced.These ideas were kicked back, with other employees attempting to protect revenues.While this might not be the most scandalous revelation, the documents suggest Facebook knowingly took advantage of this scenario, created transactions which did not suggest real money was being spent and even labelled some as ‘whales’, a term taken from casinos who target gamblers who are likely to lose the most cash.
Advocacy groups are calling for Facebook to be broken up as a result of its Cambridge Analytica scandal, subsequent privacy violations, and repeated consumer data breaches.Groups like Open Market Institute, Color of Change, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center wrote to the Federal Trade Commission today requesting a major government intervention into how Facebook operates.The letter outlined several moves the FTC could take, including a multibillion-dollar fine, reforming the company’s hiring practices, and most importantly, breaking up one of the most powerful social media companies for abusing its market position.Last week, it was reported that the Federal Trade Commission could seek a record-setting fine from Facebook after the company violated a 2012 government agreement, requiring it to properly disclose how a user’s personal and private information was obtained and used by the company and third parties.Facebook has acknowledged that user data was improperly obtained by Cambridge Analytica last year, violating that agreement.Last week’s reporting said that the FTC could push for a fine larger than the $22 million it penalized Google with in 2012, after regulators found that the company had continued to track Apple’s Safari users after disclosing that it wouldn’t.
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Looking back on the past twelve months, we will all remember cybersecurity scares, revelations of data malpractices, and countless large-scale data breaches.Allegations ranged from Google’s non-consensual tracking of user location data to (unlikely) instances of China covertly installing microscopic spy chips on US tech hardware.It’s clear that data privacy will underpin innovation and technological advancement in 2019, while the latest buzzword tech is set to go the way cryptocurrency went last year (who saw that coming?).On the rise: Data ownership and the internetThe bellwether blunder from the past 12 months has to be the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal, where it was alleged that the poached data of millions was used to influence voter behavior for key political decisions, including Trump’s election and the Brexit referendum.Thus Mark Zuckerberg’s purported clandestine global practises were brought to the forefront of public debate, which according to one survey preceded five per cent of Brits deleting their Facebook accounts.
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Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal will be remembered as the tipping point that finally convinced us to take control of our personal data assets.None of us can predict exactly what trajectory this will take over the next few years, but it is already unleashing new forces that will transform markets for our personal digital property.Last year, Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch argued, in reference to Carpenter v. United States, that cell phone data is personal property and so is protected under the Fourth Amendment.If his stance — that cell phone data is personal property — catches on, we could soon see a market driven fix for many of the data breach issues we’re seeing today.Consider this: A hundred years ago, small individual investors had a very hard time making investments in securities.Today the mutual fund industry, led by firms like Fidelity Investments and Vanguard, constitutes the most powerful investment arm in the world, managing over $49 trillion in assets globally.
Whenever a company's under intense scrutiny, people try to read tea leaves in everything that happens.In Facebook's case, the speculation comes from former American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault, who joined the social networking giant's board in January.If you've been keeping track, that was just before the Cambridge Analytica scandal hit, followed by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's testimony on Capitol Hill, then a massive hack and a bombshell report from The New York Times questioning Zuckerberg's leadership.Amid the scandals, investors, analysts and tech pundits have begun to wonder whether Zuckerberg's role at Facebook might change.Reporters have begun asking Zuckerberg on press calls whether he'd step down as Facebook's chairman or even as its CEO.Then, this week, IBM and consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble said Chenault planned to step down from positions on their boards, raising questions among some Facebook watchers about whether he may be preparing to step into the role of Facebook's chairman.
Report: Facebook let major tech firms access private messages, friends listsThe attorney general of the District of Columbia has sued (PDF) Facebook, alleging violations of local consumer protection laws.In a statement sent to reporters on Wednesday, AG Karl A. Racine said that the social media giant did not adequately protect users’ data, "enabling abuses like one that exposed nearly half of all District residents’ data to manipulation for political purposes during the 2016 election."Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, explained [Updated]The lawsuit is believed to be the first major regulatory lawsuit stemming from the Cambridge Analytica scandal that broke earlier this year."It allowed Cambridge Analytica to purchase personal information that was improperly obtained from 70 million [individuals], including 340,000 District of Columbia residents," Racine said on a Wednesday call with reporters.
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The office of the Washington, DC, attorney general announced today that it is filing a lawsuit against Facebook over the Cambridge Analytica scandal.The scandal erupted this year after it was revealed that Facebook had leaked the data of tens of millions of users by sharing the information with an academic, which was in turn obtained by the data firm.While Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was hauled before Congress to testify after the revelation, and Cambridge Analytica has since folded, the lawsuit is the first major government action taken in the United States against Facebook over the incident.The lawsuit alleges that lax privacy standards around third-party apps and partner companies allowed an incident like the data leak to happen, and claims the company misrepresented third party developers’ ability to obtain data.Facebook, according to the suit, violated the Consumer Protection Procedures Act through its actions.The attorney general’s office is seeking civil penalties in the case of an amount to be proven if the case goes to trial.
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Facebook users might have already moved on to the company’s next notable outrage, but the company is still answering for its privacy missteps from earlier this year.Washington D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine filed a lawsuit against Facebook on Wednesday, alleging that the company has not fulfilled its responsibility to protect user data.Racine’s office specifically cites the Cambridge Analytica scandal in the suit, noting that Facebook’s lax data sharing policies with third-parties led to users having their personal data harvested for profit without their consent.“Facebook failed to protect the privacy of its users and deceived them about who had access to their data and how it was used,” Attorney General Racine said of his decision to sue the company.“Facebook put users at risk of manipulation by allowing companies like Cambridge Analytica and other third-party applications to collect personal data without users’ permission.Today’s lawsuit is about making Facebook live up to its promise to protect its users’ privacy.”
Internal Facebook documents published today by the British Parliament give us more insight than ever into the mind of the largest social platform’s CEO.Among those revelations: Zuckerberg’s cavalier attitude towards the possibility of data leaks.The circumstances by which the parliament obtained these documents from U.S. software firm Six4Three were extraordinary, but so too is the hubris revealed by the emails contained in the cache.“I’m generally sceptical that there is as much data leak strategic risk as you think,” Zuckerberg wrote in a 2012 email to Sam Lessin, the company’s former VP of Project Management, “I agree there is clear risk on the advertiser side, but I haven’t figured out how that connects to the rest of the platform.I think we leak info to developers, but I just can’t think if any instances where that data has leaked from developer to developer and caused a real issue for us.Do you have examples of this?”
Internal Facebook documents published today by the British Parliament give us more insight than ever into the mind of the largest social platform’s CEO.Among those revelations: Zuckerberg’s cavalier attitude towards the possibility of data leaks.The circumstances by which the parliament obtained these documents from U.S. software firm Six4Three were extraordinary, but so too is the hubris revealed by the emails contained in the cache.“I’m generally sceptical that there is as much data leak strategic risk as you think,” Zuckerberg wrote in a 2012 email to Sam Lessin, the company’s former VP of Project Management, “I agree there is clear risk on the advertiser side, but I haven’t figured out how that connects to the rest of the platform.I think we leak info to developers, but I just can’t think if any instances where that data has leaked from developer to developer and caused a real issue for us.Do you have examples of this?”
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After repeatedly, pointedly refusing to meet with MPs to talk about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and its privacy policies in general – even by video link – it seems Mark Zuckerberg has picked someone to testify to parliament in his place.The Suckerberg will be VP of Policy Solutions Richard Allan, who will have to talk to a committee from the department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), plus delegates from a bunch of other countries who are also keen to know WTF Facebook is up to.It's not all about getting answers, though: Engadget points out that it's a bit of a stunt for some new internet guidelines:"Allan's testimony will, to some extent, be for show.After his session, representatives from each parliament are poised to sign a collection of "International Principles" for laws governing the internet -- they already have an idea as to what they want, even if it isn't legally binding.However, it won't be surprising if the hearing influences long-term internet policies in the UK and other countries in attendance."
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The UK Parliament used a rarely-used procedure to compel an app developer to seize a number of internal Facebook documents related to the company’s decision-making process preceding the Cambridge Analytica scandal, reports The Guardian.The documents reportedly contain “significant revelations” about the decisions that set the stage for the Cambridge Analytica scandal.The paper reports that MP Damian Collins, the chair of Parliament’s Culture, Media, and Sport Select Committee acted after Facebook officials have repeatedly refused to make Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg available to testify before the body regarding the scandal.At the end of October, UK regulators issued a £500,000 fine against the company, which has said that it will appeal.Parliamentary officials used a procedure to summon the founder of defunct app developer Six4Three, which is in the process of suing Facebook, alleging that the social media company used a “range of methods” to collect information about users — such as location data and text messages — with misleading privacy and data controls.While Facebook said that the claim had “no merit,” it used California laws to shield court documents.
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Facebook is to appeal the £500,000 fine handed down in October by the UK's Information Commissioner's Office over the data-harvesting scandal.The penalty – the highest the ICO was able to dole out for the firm's part in the Cambridge Analytica scandal because it took place before GDPR kicked in – equates to about 18 minutes of profit for the firm.Nonetheless, the Zuckerborg is insistent that no UK data was involved, arguing that not only does this mean it shouldn't have to pay up, but also that it's a matter of principle about the way people behave online.The ICO said when it handed down the fine that, on the information it had, "it is not possible to determine" if Facebook's assertion that only US resident's data was shared with Cambridge Analytica is correct.However, it contended that the personal data of UK users was "put at serious risk of being shared" for political campaigning – and thus issued the enforcement action for failing to do enough to protect that info.The app, created by academic Aleksandr Kogan, sucked up so many people's profiles because Facebook's policies for developers using its Graph API originally allowed apps to gather data not only from users, but also all of their friends.
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That thing that happened after it was discovered a Facebook app had abused the system and pulled data from user profiles without permission - simply because one of their friends had.We know all this because Facebook ended up in deep shit, relatively speaking, because of it, with Mark Zuckerberg testifying in front of the EU parliament and US congress.It also led to the Information Comissioner's Office slapping the company with a fine, the maximum allowed under pre-GDPR legislation.£500,000 may seem like a lot of money, but it's pathetically small considering Facebook was effectively earning that much every seven minutes during Q1 2018.Regardless of the paltry amount, Facebook has decided it's going to appeal the fine anyway.Here's what Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said when the fine was issued at the end of last month.
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Facebook showed a “disturbing level of disrespect” for users whose data was stolen in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, according to the head of the UK’s data watchdog.Information commissioner Elizabeth Denham also called for the tech giant to be regulated, saying she was “astounded” at the sheer amount of personal data held by the social network, whose business model she said was at odds with protecting users’ data.Around 80m users’ profile data was siphoned from the platform via a third-party app.Cambridge Analytica then used a portion of this data to target voters for Donald Trump in the 2016 US presidential election.Appearing in front of parliament’s digital, culture, media and sport select committee to discuss fake news, Denham added weight to calls that Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg appear before MPs about the scandal.Zuckerberg has repeatedly refused to appear before parliament despite giving evidence to US and EU politicians.
The UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) referred Facebook to Ireland's data watchdog over the way it targets users.This follows the agency hitting Facebook with a £500,000 ($645,000) fine over data harvesting linked to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the maximum amount allowed under the Data Protection Act 1998.That fine could've been considerably higher if the General Data Protection Regulation -- an EU law that gives citizens more control over their personal data -- had been in effect."We have referred our ongoing concerns about Facebook's targeting functions and techniques that are used to monitor individuals' browsing habits, interactions and behavior across the internet and different devices ... to the Irish Data Protection Commission," the ICO told Reuters.Ireland's Data Protection Commission is the lead authority for Facebook under GDPR, which came into effect in May, the news gathering service noted.UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham also called for Facebook to be subject to stricter regulation, Reuters reported.
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