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Facebook scandal a ‘game changer’ in data privacy regulation

Regulators are now working to raise awareness on data protection and regain the trust of the public.

Revelations that data belonging to as many as 87 million Facebook users and their friends may have been misused became a game changer in the world of data protection as regulators seek to raise awareness about how to protect information.

Elizabeth Denham, the UK privacy regulator leading the European investigations into how user data ended up in the hands of consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, said in a speech Monday that the technology industry and regulators must improve the public’s trust and confidence in how their private information is handled.

“The dramatic revelations of the last few weeks can be seen as a game changer in data protection,” Denham, the UK Information Commissioner (ICO), said at her agency’s annual conference for data-protection practitioners. “Suddenly, everyone is paying attention.”

Denham’s office is combing through evidence it gathered at the offices of Cambridge Analytica during searches last month following reports that the political consulting firm had obtained swathes of data from a researcher who transferred the data without Facebook’s permission. Denham has said that Facebook has been cooperating with her probe, though it’s too soon to say whether the social network’s planned changes will be enough.

The ICO has been reviewing the use of data analytics for political purposes since May 2017 and is now investigating 30 organizations, including Facebook, Denham said.

“Our ongoing investigation into the use of personal data analytics for political purposes by campaigns, parties, social media companies and others will be measured, thorough and independent,” she said. “Only when we reach our conclusions based on the evidence will we decide if enforcement action is warranted.”

The remarks come ahead of a meeting of the EU’s 28 data watchdogs in Brussels to discuss the issue and a call between Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and the bloc’s Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday and Wednesday will testify before congressional panels in the US investigating the mishandling of its data and other revelations about the social-media giant. Lawmakers and regulators in Europe are also seeking answers to questions about how the data of as many as 2.7 million people in the European Union could have ended up in the hands of a consulting firm that worked on Donald Trump’s US presidential campaign.

Italy’s privacy watchdog will meet April 24 with Stephen Deadman, Facebook’s deputy chief global privacy officer, as part of a local investigation into the scandal. Two days later, Facebook will send its Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer to answer questions from a UK parliament committee investigating the impact of social media on recent elections.

Denham’s office on Monday launched a public awareness campaign, called Your Data Matters, which seeks to restore people’s trust in how data is treated.

“The proper use of personal data can achieve remarkable things,” said Denham. “Now, more than ever, the role of data protection practitioner is not just as a guardian of privacy but as an ambassador for the appropriate use of personal data in line with the law.”

© 2018 Bloomberg L.P

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I don’t believe this incident is a game changer, after appearances on Capital Hill and a few back room ‘handling’ of this matter, the people in the US will not even have as little a gain as ‘opt-in’ rather than ‘opt-out’ option into these many neferious apps. It will be back to ‘normal’ as we know it. Facebook is too valuable a tool for US Law makers and US law enforcement for them to take action to curtail its ubiquitous data collection (for purposes not all expressly stated). They get ‘upset’ when this same data is ‘accessed’ for weaponizing against them or is ‘used’ by ‘foreign entities.’ Has Facebook informed anyone how many times US law enforcment agencies have requested information on them? Bear in mind other businesses (appss)like AirBnB and Uber, that follow your every move long after you seized your transaction with, have not drawn any attention. At least not yet. There is a lot users don’t know (and it will not all be revealed or risked by over enthusiatic law makers – it is too valuable to fail.)

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