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The EU starts an investigation on Facebook and Cambridge Analytica

  Data security on social networks

The EU wants to know if the rights of its citizens were violated by social media platforms.


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Millions of US voters had their Facebook data exploited by consultants working for the Donald Trump presidential campaign, according to press reports this weekend. But the repercussion of the revelations extends far beyond the borders of the United States.

The EU will investigate whether the privacy rights of European citizens have been violated by social media companies that may have shared their data illegally, said European Parliament President Antonio Tajani on Monday.

"The allegations of misuse of Facebook user data are an unacceptable violation of the privacy rights of our citizens", said Tajani on Twitter .

Tajani's comments follow three days of news reports on the activities of Cambridge Analytica, a UK-based company best known for its work on President Trump's 2016 election campaign. The company took advantage of the data collected from Facebook accounts to build psychological profiles of voters that they could then target with ads, according to The New York Times and Guardian reports.

According to the former Cambridge Analytica employee turned complainant Chris Wylie, a researcher at the University of Cambridge named Aleksandr Kogan collected the data through a personality questionnaire developed by his own company General Science Research (GSR), said Facebook . GSR extracted data about the Facebook users who participated in the questionnaire, as well as information about their friends, and transmitted them to Cambridge Analytica. GSR paid about 270,000 people to take the questionnaire, but in doing so managed to access profile information from more than 50 million Facebook users, the Times reported.

Facebook changed the rules for application developers to access data belonging to users' friends in 2015. Prior to this, developers could have used this data legitimately, which means that profile information belonging to EU citizens could have been collected together with data belonging to their Facebook friends in the USA. UU

The EU has much stricter privacy and data protection laws than EE. UU., And are about to be even stricter with the introduction of the general regulation of data protection at European level (GDPR) this May. European privacy laws apply to all companies operating in Europe, no matter where they are located, giving to US social media companies. UU A strict set of rules to comply with. Even under current laws, the misuse of citizen data can result in massive fines for responsible companies.

Along with the European Parliament, EU Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová also said he would try to discuss the reports with Facebook when he visits the United States Government this week.

"Horrifying, if confirmed", said about the reports in a tweet . "I hope companies take more responsibility in handling our personal data"

Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom …

In the United Kingdom, Cambridge Analytica is already the subject of two ongoing investigations by the authorities : one by the Office of the Information Commissioner (ICO), the data regulator of the country, and another by the Electoral Commissioner, who is concerned about the role that the company may have played in the 2016 Brexit campaign.

"An understanding The completeness of the facts, the data flows and the use of data is imperative for my ongoing investigation, "Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said in a statement Monday. "This includes any new information, statements or evidence that has come to light in recent days."

Cambridge Analytica has also been challenged as part of a wider parliamentary investigation into fake news in the United Kingdom. company, Alexander Nix, told members of Parliament last month that Cambridge Analytica had not received any GSR data.

"From the evidence that has been published by The Guardian and The Observer this weekend, it seems clear that He has deliberately cheated the Committee and Parliament by giving false statements, "Committee Chair Damian Collins said in a statement on Sunday, calling on Nix this week asking him to explain his earlier comments and answer new questions, he said.

Collins also accused Facebook of deliberately avoiding answering questions about Cambridge Analytica and minimizing the risk that it took in data and used without the understanding and consent of users. Facebook previously provided evidence to the committee at a session in Washington DC in February, but Collins now wants CEO Mark Zuckerberg or another senior executive to answer for the company.

"It is not acceptable that they have previously sent witnesses to avoid asking difficult questions by claiming not to know the answers," Collins said. "We need to listen to people who can talk about Facebook from a position of authority that requires them to know the truth."

"Someone has to take responsibility for this," he added. It's time for Mark Zuckerberg to stop hiding. "Behind his Facebook page"

Collins also invites whistleblower Chris Wylie to appear before the committee.

Facebook did not respond to a request for comments.

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