Cambridge Analytica | Investigation to Continue | Xuper News

Investigation into Cambridge Analytica will continue

On May 2nd, Cambridge Analytica, the firm accused of acquiring data from up to 87 million Facebook profiles announced it’s closure.  However, the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) confirmed its investigation will still continue and “pursue individuals and directors”.

Damian Collins, chair of the Commons select committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) confirmed on twitter: “Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group [parent company] cannot be allowed to delete their data history by closing.”

The Scandal

The Cambridge Analytica scandal first came to light back on March 17th when The Observer and New York Times published accounts by an ex-employee, stating 50 million Facebook accounts were improperly harvested by the company.  A couple of days later Channel 4 aired undercover footage showing CEO, Alexander Nix, providing examples of how they could swing elections around the world with tactics such as smear campaigns and honey traps. This then lead to Alexander Nix being suspended.

Since then the UK’s data watchdog was granted permission to search the office. Facebook confirmed it believes up to 87 million people’s data was improperly harvested, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been questioned by US lawmakers and has been issued by the UK parliamentary committee with a “formal summons for him to appear when he is next in the UK” as questions remain unanswered.  Then on May 2nd, Cambridge Analytica announced it’s closure.

What caused the closure? 

Data Protection is being taken more and more seriously, people are beginning to want to know how there data is being harvested, how secure it’s being kept, what information is being stored etc.

Cambridge Analytica are a prime example of how quickly this type of scandal can negatively impact an organisation – and even result in them going out of business. Once it’s come to light a company has had a breach or has been mishandling personal data, their reputation is instantly tarnished. No longer will customers come to them or trust them, no longer will other firms want to do business with them, and without customers, or partners , how can a business continue? And it’s not just the reputation, the potential fines could easily be enough to force companies out of business.

The Investigation

The ICO is continuing it’s investigation and a spokesperson said investigators will closely examine the details of the closure and “monitor any successor companies”.

“The ICO will continue its civil and criminal investigations and will seek to pursue individuals and directors as appropriate and necessary even where companies may no longer be operating.”

Data Protection

This latest scandal shows the severity of mishandling/misusing people’s personal data. And this comes weeks before the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) come into force (May 25th). These new regulations will include a number of new rights, measures organisations need to adopt and mandatory data breach reporting. Fines for not being GDPR compliant could reach up to 4% of annual global turnover or €20 million, whichever is higher. You can read our tips on what you should prioritise for the GDPR here.

As for EU citizens, you will have be able to request to see what information organisations hold on you, and request for them to permanently delete it.

Keeping Your Facebook Data Secure

In 2014 a quiz on Facebook invited users to find out their personality type. This app then collected the data of those who took the quiz and recorded the public data of their friends. It is claimed this data was then sold to Cambridge Analytica.

This has left people concerned about what information apps on Facebook are holding on them, and even resulted many people permanently deleting their profile.  However, if you don’t want to delete your account, there are other measures you can take to keep your data more secure:

 

  • Review which apps have access to your data. Over time you’ve probably installed apps on Facebook, or logged into apps via Facebook and completely forgotten about them.  Go to Settings > Apps > Logged in with Facebook and remove anything that doesn’t need access to your profile.
  • Is your account actually private? (so only friends can see your information), or is a lot of it public for anyone to see? Go to Settings > Timeline and Tagging > Review > Review what other people see on your timeline, and click View As. You can then change how much of your profile is visible to people you aren’t friends with.
  • It’s worth unfriending people you don’t know or don’t speak to. In the Cambridge Analytica scandal the app that collected the data also recorded the public data of the users friends, showing anything that’s public on your profile could be vulnerable. It’s worth removing some people, or making sure any personal information is kept private.
  • Disable API sharing. You can often sign up/sign in to websites or apps via your Facebook account, which can be useful but also means Facebook is connected to whatever you’re doing on that site/app. Disable API sharing by going to Settings > Apps > Apps, Website and Plugins, and click Edit. Disable it. However, some apps require you to use Facebook to prove who you really are so If you disable API sharing entirely, you won’t be able to use them. In that case you might want to review and revoke permissions on a case-by-case basis rather than fully disabling API sharing.
  • Finally, you can lie or limit what personal information you share on your profile. For example – does Facebook need to know your hometown, which of your friends are family members, or what your religious and political views are? People fill these in just because they are there, but it’s not mandatory.

 

Whilst it’s difficult to completely protect all of your data, you can certainly take precautions to keep it as secure and private as possible. And with GDPR around the corner it will be even easier to take control over who is holding your data.

GDPR compliance

Hopefully by now your business is well on it’s way to GDPR compliance, however, If you have any concerns, it’s not too late for a GDPR audit or assessment. For more information, you can speak to one of our experts on 01332 362 481 or hello@xuper.co.uk

 

(research on the Cambridge Analytica Scandal from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43985186)