Tag Archives: Data

How to deal with bad data in your cloud migration
May 16, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

Do you have dysfunctional enterprise data? The symptoms are pretty easy to spot, including not having a single source of truth for customers, orders, inventory, etc. Or not be able to properly secure and govern the data, thus being unable to deal with regulations.

Many enterprises are taking their dysfunctional data to the cloud, and thus their limits and problems. But you don’t have to perpetuate that dysfunction in the cloud. Here are some ways to fix that dysfunctional data when moving to the cloud.

Option 1: Fix the data in flight to the cloud

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UK Regulators Demand Cambridge Analytica Hand Over User Data
May 5, 2018 6:01 pm|Comments (0)

The United Kingdom’s Information Commissioner’s Office issued an order Friday requiring SCL Elections, the British affiliate of the controversial data mining firm Cambridge Analytica, to turn over all of the data it collected about a United States-based academic named David Carroll. Carroll filed a request for this data in January of 2017 under British data protection law, and received a response in March of that year that the Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham describes in the order as “wholly inadequate.” Now, Denham is requiring SCL to comply with the request, or face criminal charges.

The enforcement order comes just days after Cambridge Analytica, which worked for Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, announced that it would shut down and declare bankruptcy, along with its international affiliates, following revelations that the companies had harvested the data of up to 87 million Americans without their knowledge. The company’s former CEO Alexander Nix was also recorded this year on undercover video, appearing to brag about using tactics like bribery and entrapment on behalf of Cambridge Analytica’s clients.

Long before the name Cambridge Analytica became notorious in households across the country, though, Carroll, a professor of media design at Parsons School of Design in Manhattan, became suspicious about the way the company built its so-called psychographic profiles of US voters. These profiles, the company claimed, contained information not only about people’s demographics, but their personalities as well. Given that Cambridge Analytica originally spun out of a British company called SCL Group, Carroll filed a request under the UK’s Data Protection Act seeking access to all of the information the company had collected on him.

When SCL sent Carroll back his file, he was utterly unsatisfied. It ranked his interest in topics like immigration and gun control on a numeric scale, but offered no insight into what data was being used to generate those scores, or who actually used them. In mid-March, the same day Facebook announced it was suspending Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group from its platform as punishment for their transgressions, Carroll filed a request for disclosure in the UK in an attempt to force SCL to hand over the underlying data and answer a litany of questions about how they were being used.

Though that case is still ongoing, the ICO’s order does accomplish some of that work for Carroll. In the order, Denham describes the months-long battle between her office and SCL’s office over Carroll’s data request. According to the order, SCL repeatedly argued that as an US citizen, Carroll had no right to request his data under British laws, going so far as to write in one response that Carroll had no more data access rights in the UK “than a member of the Taliban sitting in a cave in the remotest corner of Afghanistan.”

Denham disagreed with that assessment. In March, after the undercover videos of Nix went public, the ICO stormed the company’s offices and seized its servers. Now, the regulator is giving SCL 30 days to provide descriptions of Carroll’s personal data, the purpose that data served, a list of all the recipients of that data, copies of the data itself, and the sources of that data.

“It’s quite exciting,” Carroll says of the order. “At the minimum, it’s the beginning of a victory and pointing toward winning.”

Still, he says, “It didn’t have to come to this. We’ve been trying for more than a year to do this out of court…It just kept escalating.”

SCL now has the opportunity to appeal the ICO’s order. Representatives for SCL didn’t immediately respond to WIRED’s request for comment.

Cambridge Analytica Exposed

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WhatsApp raises minimum age in Europe to 16 ahead of data law change
April 24, 2018 6:10 pm|Comments (0)

LONDON (Reuters) – WhatsApp, the popular messaging service owned by Facebook Inc (FB.O), is raising its minimum age from 13 to 16 in Europe to help it comply with new data privacy rules coming into force next month.

FILE PHOTO: The WhatsApp app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration taken September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

WhatsApp will ask European users to confirm they are at least 16 years old when they are prompted to agree new terms of service and a privacy policy provided by a new WhatsApp Ireland Ltd entity in the next few weeks.

It is not clear how or if the age limit will be checked given the limited data requested and held by the service.

Facebook, which has a separate data policy, is taking a different approach to teens aged between 13 and 15 in order to comply with the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law.

It is asking them to nominate a parent or guardian to give permission for them to share information on the platform, otherwise they will not see a fully personalized version of the social media platform.

But WhatsApp, which had more than 1.5 billion users in January according to Facebook, said in a blog post it was not asking for any new rights to collect personal information in the agreement it has created for the European Union.

“Our goal is simply to explain how we use and protect the limited information we have about you,” it said.

WhatsApp, founded in 2009, has come under pressure from some European governments in recent years because of its end-to-end encrypted messaging system and its plan to share more data with its parent, Facebook.

Facebook itself is under scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers around the world since disclosing last month that the personal information of millions of users wrongly ended up in the hands of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, setting off wider concerns about how it handles user data.

WhatsApp’s minimum age of use will remain 13 years in the rest of the world, in line with its parent.

GDPR is the biggest overhaul of online privacy since the birth of the internet, giving Europeans the right to know what data is stored on them and the right to have it deleted.

Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and some other tech firms have said they plan to give people in the United States and elsewhere the same protections and rights that Europeans will gain.

European regulators have already disrupted a move by WhatsApp to change its policies to allow it to share users’ phone numbers and other information with Facebook to help improve the product and more effectively target ads.

WhatsApp suspended the change in Europe after widespread regulatory scrutiny. It said on Tuesday it still wanted to share the data at some point.

“As we have said in the past, we want to work closer with other Facebook companies in the future and we will keep you updated as we develop our plans,” it said.

Other changes announced by WhatsApp on Tuesday include allowing users to download a report detailing the data it holds on them, such as the make and model of the device they used, their contacts and groups and any blocked numbers.

“This feature will be rolling out to all users around the world on the newest version of the app,” it said.

The blog post also points to safety tips on the service, such as the ability to block unwanted users, and delete and report spam.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Adrian Croft

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German lawmakers to grill Facebook manager on data privacy
April 19, 2018 6:03 pm|Comments (0)

BERLIN (Reuters) – German lawmakers will question a senior Facebook Inc manager about data privacy in the wake of revelations that the personal information of millions of users wrongly ended up in the hands of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

FILE PHOTO: A 3D-printed Facebook logo is seen in front of displayed stock graph in this illustration photo, March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

Lawmakers in the Bundestag lower house of parliament will grill Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president for global public policy, during a closed-door session on Friday morning.

The meeting mirrors the appearance of Facebook’s Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg before a U.S. Congressional joint hearing on April 10-11 over the scandal engulfing the world’s largest social network.

The 87 million Facebook users affected included nearly three million Europeans and Zuckerberg is also under pressure from EU lawmakers to come to Europe to shed light on the data breach.

“Facebook needs to show more openness and transparency when dealing with user data,” said Nadine Schoen, deputy leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc in the Bundestag.

She said Facebook needed to do more than just pay lip service and it remained to be seen how serious the company was about really improving user rights.

“It is not enough to exchange the gray T-shirt and jeans for suit and tie,” she said in reference to Zuckerberg’s appearance in the U.S. Congress.

The senior lawmaker said that Facebook so far was giving the impression that it only wanted to save its business model.

“For example, the company is already rowing back in the supposedly world-wide announced implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation,” Schoen warned, referring to privacy rules that will enter force in the European Union next month.

“We no longer need excuses, but facts,” she said.

German Justice Minister Katarina Barley last month summoned executives of the firm, including European public affairs chief Richard Allan.

Misuse of data by Facebook means it will in future be bound by stricter regulations and the threat of tougher penalties for further privacy violations, Barley said after the meeting.

Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Douglas Busvine

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Saks, Lord & Taylor hit by payment card data breach
April 1, 2018 6:01 pm|Comments (0)

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Hudson’s Bay Co said on Sunday that data from card payments in some of its Saks and Lord & Taylor stores in North America had been compromised.

The Lord & Taylor flagship store building is seen along Fifth Avenue in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The Canadian retail company said it had identified the issue and taken steps to contain it, adding that “there is no indication” so far that the issue had affected the company’s e-commerce or other digital platforms.

Customers will not be liable for fraudulent charges that may result from the issue, the company said.

The stores involved include Saks Fifth Avenue, Saks OFF 5TH and Lord & Taylor, the company said.

Reporting by David Henry in New York; Editing by Bill Rigby

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Investors, lawmakers, advertisers pressure Facebook over data
March 22, 2018 6:05 pm|Comments (0)

WASHINGTON/LONDON (Reuters) – Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg’s apology for how his company handled 50 million users’ data did little on Thursday to ease investor worries about the cost to fix mistakes and lawmakers’ dismay that his response did not go far enough.

Germany’s second-largest bank Commerzbank AG has suspended advertising on Facebook until further notice, Handelsblatt newspaper reported on Thursday, following in the steps of Mozilla, which runs the Firefox web browser.

Allegations that political consultancy Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed data to build profiles on American voters and influence the 2016 presidential election has knocked more than $ 50 billion of Facebook’s market value this week.

Five days after the scandal broke, Zuckerberg apologized on Wednesday that mistakes were made and promised to restrict developers’ access to user information as part of a plan to improve privacy protection.

On Thursday, Facebook executives were still saying sorry. “It was a mistake”, Campbell Brown, head of news partnerships at Facebook, said at The Financial Times FT Future of News Conference in New York City.

Zuckerberg’s apology and promises were not enough to ease political pressure on the world’s largest social media company.

“It shouldn’t be for a company to decide what is the appropriate balance between privacy and innovation and use of data. Those rules should be set by society as a whole and so by parliament,” British minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Matt Hancock, told BBC Radio. “The big tech companies need to abide by the law and we’re strengthening the law.”

In Washington, Zuckerberg’s media rounds did little to satisfy lawmakers in either political party who have demanded this week that the billionaire testify before Congress.

Facebook executives were expected to brief two congressional committees on Thursday, after being grilled for nearly two hours by staff for the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday.

Facebook Deputy Chief Privacy Officer Rob Sherman and other executives were unable to answer many questions at Wednesday’s meeting, according to two aides who were present. The executives said they had written down a list of 60 questions they promised to answer, the aides said.

The Republican chairman and top Democrat of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee said they will in coming days formally ask Zuckerberg to testify.

REPUTATIONAL COSTS

Wall Street analysts expressed relief that there were no signs so far of a more fundamental shift in the company’s advertising-driven revenue model, but some said there would be costs to shore up its reputation.

Facebook, with more than 2 billion monthly active users, made almost all its $ 40.6 billion in revenue last year from advertising.

A 3D-printed Facebook logo is seen in front of displayed stock graph in this illustration photo March 20, 2018. Picture taken March 20. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Stifel analyst Scott Devitt cut his price target on Facebook by $ 27 to $ 168, while BofA Merrill Lynch slashed its target by $ 35 to $ 230.

“Facebook’s current plight reminds us of eBay in 2004 – an unstructured content business built on trust that lost that trust prior to implementing policies to add structure and process,” Devitt said.

“Warren Buffett has his own thing called a “too hard” pile, and we are choosing to put Facebook shares in it,” he wrote.

Facebook shares were down 2.2 percent on Thursday in heavy trading.

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Analysts said that Zuckerberg’s promises to investigate thousands of apps, and to give members a tool that lets them turn off access, would not substantially reduce advertisers’ ability to use Facebook data – the company’s lifeblood.

Nevertheless, open-source browser and app developer Mozilla said it was “pressing pause” on its Facebook advertising after the revelations prompted it to take a closer look at the site’s default privacy settings.

“We found that its current default settings leave access open to a lot of data – particularly with respect to settings for third party apps,” Mozilla, it said in a blog post.

“When Facebook takes stronger action in how it shares customer data, specifically strengthening its default privacy settings for third party apps, we’ll consider returning.”

Commerzbank said it, too, was pausing its campaign on Facebook. “Brand safety and data security are very important to us,” head of brand strategy Uwe Hellmann told Handelsblatt. The comments were confirmed by a spokesman for the bank.

The Times newspaper reported that British advertising group ISBA, which represents thousands of well-known brands, has threatened to withdraw ads if investigations show user data has been misused.

“We think this issue is more likely to snowball than recede and that advertisers are reaching a tipping point at which spending on not only Facebook and other online platforms, is re-evaluated,” brokerage Liberum said in a note.

Technology stocks have fallen along with Facebook this week as investors worried about tighter scrutiny of global platforms like Google, Twitter and Snapchat.

British police removed cordons around the London headquarters of Cambridge Analytica on Thursday after they deemed a suspicious package which sparked a security alert to be safe.

Efforts by Britain’s information watchdog to investigate Cambridge Analytica were delayed when a judge adjourned for 24 hours its application to search the company’s head office.

Additional reporting by Munsif Vengattil and Paul Sandle; Editing by Nick Zieminski

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Facebook and UK political consultancy sued in data storm
March 21, 2018 6:01 pm|Comments (0)

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) – A U.S. resident has sued Facebook and a British-based political consultancy for obtaining data from millions of the social media site’s users without their permission, while an academic at the center of the storm accused both firms of scapegoating him.

The complaint filed at the U.S. District Court in San Jose, California, marked the first of what may be many lawsuits seeking damages over Facebook’s ability to protect user data, and exploitation of the information by the Cambridge Analytica consultancy to help President Donald Trump’s election campaign.

Facebook (FB.O) has been rocked this week by a whistleblower who said Cambridge Analytica, which Trump hired for the 2016 campaign, improperly accessed information on Facebook users to build detailed profiles on American voters.

This revelation has knocked nearly $ 50 billion off Facebook’s stock market value in two days and hit the shares of Twitter and Snap over fears that a failure by big tech firms to protect personal data could deter advertisers and users and invite tougher regulation.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive, who has been quiet on the controversy, is to address the revelations later on Wednesday, a source at the company told Reuters.

The proposed class-action complaint was filed late on Tuesday by Lauren Price, a Maryland resident. “Every Facebook user has an interest in this lawsuit, and the enforcement of their privacy rights,” John Yanchunis, a lawyer for Price, told Reuters on Wednesday. The complaint seeks unspecified damages, including possible punitive damages.

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica did not immediately respond on Wednesday to requests for comment.

A former Facebook manager who was responsible for policing the network’s data handling procedures in 2011-2012 said he had warned senior executives about the issue.

The manager, Sandy Parakilas, said he had told them that Facebook’s failure to police how outside software developers used its data put the company at risk of major data breaches. “There was very little detection or enforcement,” he told a British parliamentary committee via videolink.

SWING VOTERS

The academic who provided the data, psychologist Aleksandr Kogan, told the BBC that Cambridge Analytica had greatly exaggerated its role in Trump’s victory.

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have both blamed Kogan, who gathered the data by running a survey app on Facebook. Kogan combines the roles of an academic at Cambridge University and a web entrepreneur based in San Francisco.

U.S. political campaigns collect large amounts of data, hoping to target swing voters sympathetic to their message. Cambridge Analytica stood out for the scale of claims in its marketing materials to “collect up to 5,000 data points on over 220 million Americans” in all its activities.

It uses techniques based on personality traits and then applies analytic tools to pinpoint supporters.

However, Kogan said the services provided by the consultancy had been greatly exaggerated.

“I think what Cambridge Analytica has tried to sell is magic, and they’ve made claims that this is incredibly accurate and it tells you everything there is to tell about you. But I think the reality is it’s not that,” he said.

Slideshow (5 Images)

Arron Banks, who campaigned for Britain to leave the European Union in a 2016 referendum, also questioned the value of psychologically-based data.

Banks told Reuters that Cambridge Analytica had unsuccessfully pitched for work with his Leave.eu campaign group. “I think they are nothing more than a company that places Facebook ads and shrouds in a sort of mystery,” he said.

Kogan’s application, “thisisyourdigitallife,” offered a personality prediction and billed itself on Facebook as “a research app used by psychologists”.

Kogan said he had gathered the data in 2014. He was then approached by Cambridge Analytica who provided the legal advice around its use, he added.

Facebook says Kogan then violated its policies by passing the data to Cambridge Analytica for commercial use, saying on Friday he “lied to us”. Cambridge Analytica said it destroyed the data once it realized the information did not adhere to data protection rules.

“My view is that I’m being basically used as a scapegoat by both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica,” said Kogan. “We were assured by Cambridge Analytica that everything was perfectly legal and within the limits of the terms of service.”

Cambridge Analytica has denied various allegations made about its business practices in recent media reports.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said she backed an investigation into the consultancy, while the German government also expressed its concern.

In Europe the tax affairs of tech giants have become a hot political issue. On Wednesday the European Commission proposed rules to make digital companies pay their fair share of tax, with Facebook and its peers set to foot much of the bill.

PERSONALITY TEST

Alexander Nix, the head of Cambridge Analytica, said in a secretly recorded video broadcast on Tuesday that his company had played a decisive role in Trump’s election victory. He was suspended by the company shortly before the video was shown on Britain’s Channel 4 News.

Around 270,000 people downloaded the app, Facebook said. The app scored the results of each quiz and gathered up data from test-takers’ Facebook accounts. However, it also pulled down the data of their Facebook friends, vastly increasing the size of the sample.

Kogan put the number of app users as closer to 200,000.

The researcher said, in total, he passed the data of around 30 million American Facebook users to SCL, a government and military contractor that is the parent of Cambridge Analytica. Media reports have put the total number of Facebook profiles collected at around 50 million users.

U.S. and European lawmakers have demanded an explanation of how Cambridge Analytica gained access to user data in 2014 and why Facebook failed to inform its users.

Facebook said it had been told by the Federal Trade Commission, the leading U.S. consumer regulator, that it would receive a letter this week with questions about the data acquired by Cambridge Analytica. It said it had no indication of a formal investigation.

Additional reporting by Dustin Volz in Washington; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge, David Stamp and Janet Lawrence

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Exclusive: Kaspersky Lab plans Swiss data center to combat spying allegations – documents
March 21, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

MOSCOW/TORONTO (Reuters) – Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab plans to open a data center in Switzerland to address Western government concerns that Russia exploits its anti-virus software to spy on customers, according to internal documents seen by Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Russia’s Kaspersky Lab is displayed at the company’s office in Moscow, Russia October 27, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Picture

Kaspersky is setting up the center in response to actions in the United States, Britain and Lithuania last year to stop using the company’s products, according to the documents, which were confirmed by a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

The action is the latest effort by Kaspersky, a global leader in anti-virus software, to parry accusations by the U.S. government and others that the company spies on customers at the behest of Russian intelligence. The U.S. last year ordered civilian government agencies to remove the Kaspersky software from their networks.

Kaspersky has strongly rejected the accusations and filed a lawsuit against the U.S. ban.

The U.S. allegations were the “trigger” for setting up the Swiss data center, said the person familiar with Kapersky’s Switzerland plans, but not the only factor.

“The world is changing,” they said, speaking on condition of anonymity when discussing internal company business. “There is more balkanisation and protectionism.”

The person declined to provide further details on the new project, but added: “This is not just a PR stunt. We are really changing our R&D infrastructure.”

A Kaspersky spokeswoman declined to comment on the documents reviewed by Reuters.

In a statement, Kaspersky Lab said: “To further deliver on the promises of our Global Transparency Initiative, we are finalizing plans for the opening of the company’s first transparency center this year, which will be located in Europe.”

“We understand that during a time of geopolitical tension, mirrored by an increasingly complex cyber-threat landscape, people may have questions and we want to address them.”

Kaspersky Lab launched a campaign in October to dispel concerns about possible collusion with the Russian government by promising to let independent experts scrutinize its software for security vulnerabilities and “back doors” that governments could exploit to spy on its customers.

The company also said at the time that it would open “transparency centers” in Asia, Europe and the United States but did not provide details. The new Swiss facility is dubbed the Swiss Transparency Centre, according to the documents.

DATA REVIEW

Work in Switzerland is due to begin “within weeks” and be completed by early 2020, said the person with knowledge of the matter.

The plans have been approved by Kaspersky Lab CEO and founder Eugene Kaspersky, who owns a majority of the privately held company, and will be announced publicly in the coming months, according to the source.

“Eugene is upset. He would rather spend the money elsewhere. But he knows this is necessary,” the person said.

It is possible the move could be derailed by the Russian security services, who might resist moving the data center outside of their jurisdiction, people familiar with Kaspersky and its relations with the government said.

Western security officials said Russia’s FSB Federal Security Service, successor to the Soviet-era KGB, exerts influence over Kaspersky management decisions, though the company has repeatedly denied those allegations.

The Swiss center will collect and analyze files identified as suspicious on the computers of tens of millions of Kaspersky customers in the United States and European Union, according to the documents reviewed by Reuters. Data from other customers will continue to be sent to a Moscow data center for review and analysis.

Files would only be transmitted from Switzerland to Moscow in cases when anomalies are detected that require manual review, the person said, adding that about 99.6 percent of such samples do not currently undergo this process.

A third party will review the center’s operations to make sure that all requests for such files are properly signed, stored and available for review by outsiders including foreign governments, the person said.

Moving operations to Switzerland will address concerns about laws that enable Russian security services to monitor data transmissions inside Russia and force companies to assist law enforcement agencies, according to the documents describing the plan.

The company will also move the department which builds its anti-virus software using code written in Moscow to Switzerland, the documents showed.

Kaspersky has received “solid support” from the Swiss government, said the source, who did not identify specific officials who have endorsed the plan.

Reporting by Jack Stubbs in Moscow and Jim Finkle in Toronto; Editing by Jonathan Weber

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Facebook critics want regulation, investigation after data misuse
March 18, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Facebook Inc faced new calls for regulation from within U.S. Congress and was hit with questions about personal data safeguards on Saturday after reports a political consultant gained inappropriate access to 50 million users’ data starting in 2014.

FILE PHOTO: Facebook logo is seen at a start-up companies gathering at Paris’ Station F in Paris, France on January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Photo

Facebook disclosed the issue in a blog post on Friday, hours before media reports that conservative-leaning Cambridge Analytica, a data company known for its work on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, was given access to the data and may not have deleted it.

The scrutiny presented a new threat to Facebook’s reputation, which was already under attack over Russians’ alleged use of Facebook tools to sway American voters before and after the 2016 U.S. elections.

“It’s clear these platforms can’t police themselves,” Democratic U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar tweeted.

“They say ‘trust us.’ Mark Zuckerberg needs to testify before Senate Judiciary,” she added, referring to Facebook’s CEO and a committee she sits on.

Facebook said the root of the problem was that researchers and Cambridge Analytica lied to it and abused its policies, but critics on Saturday threw blame at Facebook as well, demanding answers on behalf of users and calling for new regulation.

Facebook insisted the data was misused but not stolen, because users gave permission, sparking a debate about what constitutes a hack that must be disclosed to customers.

“The lid is being opened on the black box of Facebook’s data practices, and the picture is not pretty,” said Frank Pasquale, a University of Maryland law professor who has written about Silicon Valley’s use of data.

Pasquale said Facebook’s response that data had not technically been stolen seemed to obfuscate the central issue that data was apparently used in a way contrary to the expectations of users.

“It amazes me that they are trying to make this about nomenclature. I guess that’s all they have left,” he said.

Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Warner said the episode bolstered the need for new regulations about internet advertising, describing the industry as the “Wild West.”

“Whether it’s allowing Russians to purchase political ads, or extensive micro-targeting based on ill-gotten user data, it’s clear that, left unregulated, this market will continue to be prone to deception and lacking in transparency,” he said.

With Republicans controlling the Senate’s majority, though, it was not clear if Klobuchar and Warner would prevail.

The New York Times and London’s Observer reported on Saturday that private information from more than 50 million Facebook users improperly ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica, and the information has not been deleted despite Facebook’s demands beginning in 2015.

Some 270,000 people allowed use of their data by a researcher, who scraped the data of all their friends as well, a move allowed by Facebook until 2015. The researcher sold the data to Cambridge, which was against Facebook rules, the newspapers said.

Cambridge Analytica worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign. A Trump campaign official said, though, that it used Republican data sources, not Cambridge Analytica, for its voter information.

Facebook, in a series of written statements beginning late on Friday, said its policies had been broken by Cambridge Analytica and researchers and that it was exploring legal action.

Cambridge Analytica in turn said it had deleted all the data and that the company supplying it had been responsible for obtaining it.

Andrew Bosworth, a Facebook vice president, hinted the company could make more changes to demonstrate it values privacy. “We must do better and will,” he wrote on Twitter, adding that “our business depends on it at every level.”

Facebook said it asked for the data to be deleted in 2015 and then relied on written certifications by those involved that they had complied.

Nuala O’Connor, president of the Center for Democracy & Technology, an advocacy group in Washington, D.C., said Facebook was relying on the good will of decent people rather than preparing for intentional misuse.

Moreover, she found it puzzling that Facebook knew about the abuse in 2015 but did not disclose it until Friday. “That’s a long time,” she said.

Britain’s data protection authority and the Massachusetts attorney general on Saturday said they were launching investigations into the use of Facebook data.

“It is important that the public are fully aware of how information is used and shared in modern political campaigns and the potential impact on their privacy,” UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said in a statement.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office said she wants to understand how the data was used, what policies if any were violated and what the legal implications are.

Reporting by David Ingram; Editing by Peter Henderson and Chris Reese

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Facebook suspends data analytics firm that worked for Trump campaign
March 17, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc on Friday said it was suspending political data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, which worked for President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, after finding data privacy policies had been violated.

FILE PHOTO: A Facebook logo is seen at the Facebook Gather conference in Brussels, Belgium January 23, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

Facebook said in a statement that it suspended Cambridge Analytica and its parent group Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL) after receiving reports that they did not delete information about Facebook users that had been inappropriately shared.

Cambridge Analytica was not immediately available for comment. Facebook did not mention the Trump campaign or any political campaigns in its statement, attributed to company Deputy General Counsel Paul Grewal.

“We will take legal action if necessary to hold them responsible and accountable for any unlawful behavior,” Facebook said, adding that it was continuing to investigate the claims.

Cambridge Analytica worked for the failed presidential campaign of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and then for the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. On its website, it says it “provided the Donald J. Trump for President campaign with the expertise and insights that helped win the White House”.

Brad Parscale, who ran Trump’s digital ad operation in 2016 and is his 2020 campaign manager, declined to comment on Friday.

In past interviews with Reuters, Parscale has said that Cambridge Analytica played a minor role as a contractor in the 2016 Trump campaign, and that the campaign used voter data from a Republican-affiliated organization rather than Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook’s Grewal said the company was taking the unusual step of announcing the suspension “given the public prominence” of Cambridge Analytica and its parent organization.

The suspension means Cambridge Analytica and SCL cannot buy ads on the world’s largest social media network or administer pages belonging to clients, Andrew Bosworth, a Facebook vice president, said in a Twitter post.

Trump’s campaign hired Cambridge Analytica in June 2016 and paid it more than $ 6.2 million, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Cambridge Analytica says it uses “behavioral microtargeting”, or combining analysis of people’s personalities with demographics, to predict and influence mass behavior. It says it has data on 220 million Americans, two thirds of the U.S. population.

It has worked on other campaigns in the United States and other countries, and it is funded by Robert Mercer, a prominent supporter of politically conservative groups.

Facebook in its statement described a rocky relationship with Cambridge Analytica and two individuals going back to 2015.

That year, Facebook said, it learned that University of Cambridge professor Aleksandr Kogan lied to the company and violated its policies by sharing data that he acquired with a so-called “research app” that used Facebook’s login system.

Kogan was not immediately available for comment.

The app was downloaded by about 270,000 people. Facebook said that Kogan gained access to profile and other information “in a legitimate way” but “he did not subsequently abide by our rules” when he passed the data to SCL/Cambridge Analytica and Christopher Wylie of Eunoia Technologies. (bit.ly/2FZU1Ir)

Eunoia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Facebook said it cut ties to Kogan’s app when it learned of the violation in 2015, and asked for certification from Kogan and all parties he had given data to that the information had been destroyed.

Although all certified that they had destroyed the data, Facebook said that it received reports in the past several days that “not all data was deleted”, prompting the suspension announced on Friday.

Additional Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Jonathan Weber, Leslie Adler and Joseph Radford

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