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Facebook says that Indonesian user data was not misused



JAKARTA (Reuters) – Social networking giant Facebook assured the Indonesian government that political consultancy Cambridge Analytica has not unduly accessed the personal data of about one million of its citizens.

PHOTO OF ARCHIVE: A 3D plastic representation of the Facebook logo is seen in this illustration in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, May 13, 2015. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Stock Photo

Facebook has been facing intense scrutiny, including multiple official investigations in the United States, Europe and Australia, on allegations of misuse of data by 87 million Facebook users by Cambridge Analytica.

Indonesia, where more than 115 million people use Facebook, has also pressured the company to explain how Cambridge Analytica collected the personal data of its citizens through a personality questionnaire.

"Facebook informed the Ministry of Communications that no data was collected from any Indonesian user," Vice Minister of Communications Semuel Pangerapan said on Friday.

A Facebook official had told members of parliament in April that 1,096,666 people in Indonesia could have had their shared data, or 1.26 percent of the world total.

This led Minister of Communications Rudiantara, who has only one name, to briefly threaten to close Facebook in Indonesia if it was discovered that personal data had been violated.

But Facebook told Reuters on Thursday that it had only indicated the number of Indonesian users "who may have had access to their data, not necessarily misused."

"Both the public records and the existing evidence clearly indicate that Aleksandr Kogan did not provide Cambridge Analytica or (its principal) SCL data on people who use Facebook in Indonesia," he added, referring to the investigator linked to the scandal.

Facebook says that Kogan collected data by creating an application on the platform that was downloaded by 270,000 people, providing access not only to their own but also to the personal data of their friends.

Pangerapan said he believed Facebook had improved options for users to limit access to data, but did not say whether the authorities would continue their investigation.

The Ministry of Communications of Indonesia sent a letter to the company in April requesting confirmation of technical measures to limit access to data on Facebook and more information about an audit that the social media company was doing.

Britain's regulator on Wednesday approved a small but symbolic fine of 500,000 pounds on Facebook for infractions of the data protection law, the first step of a regulator to punish the social media giant for controversy.

Information from Fanny Potkin and Cindy Silviana; Edition of Himani Sarkar

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