Four months after the appalling revelation of the massive data leak involving social media giant Facebook and British political firm Cambridge Analytica surfaced, the California based company is still facing the heat.
In the most recent developments, the world’s biggest social media company has been slapped with a fine of 500,000 Pounds by the UK Information Commissioner after it found out that the company had “contravened the law” — specifically the 1998 Data Protection Act — “by failing to safeguard people’s information.”
This news comes a few days after the company had turned its words in the second hearing with EU lawmakers on June 26 when it said that the data leaked was mostly utilized for US Presidential elections and that European countries were not involved in the leak. However, in the initial stages of uncovering the leak, the company had stated that over 27 Million Europeans were affected due to the leak.
However, Facebook could not substantiate its claims in front of EU watchdogs as they had not conducted an internal audit to prove the claims.
Cambridge Analytica who bought the harvested data from Dr Aleksandr Kogan shut down in early May after it reported bankruptcy due to loss of clients. Noting that, Facebook was equally responsible for burying its head in the sand and not implementing necessary actions against the leak in its early stages.
Aleksandr Kogan’s quiz-app ‘This is your digital life’, which was the epicentre of the breach, was created by him for research purposes in 2014. The participants were paid a small amount of money, covered by Cambridge Analytica. Later this data was handed over to Cambridge Analytica, the purpose for which was unknown to Kogan.
The app collected data from people who took part in the quiz as well as their friends. On discovering the violation in 2015, Facebook asked Kogan to delete the data he had obtained, and brought about crucial changes in the platform’s privacy policies. However, no follow up investigations were conducted to ensure it.
In November 2015 the Pro-Brexit campaign led by Nigel Farage hired Cambridge Analytica. Following which in December of the same year, Ted Cruz, a presidential nominee from the United States hired them. But soon after the Cruze’s campaign folded, Cambridge Analytica was hired by Donald Trump's presidential campaign. The psychographics obtained was used to create targeted political ads for the respective campaigns.