FTC: Cambridge Analytica Deceived Facebook Users

FTC: Cambridge Analytica Deceived Facebook Users

Cambridge Analytica deceived tens of millions of Facebook users by working to harvest their personal data for use in political targeting, the FTC has ruled.

The regulator voted 5-0 in favor of issuing the Opinion and Final Order to the notorious consulting firm, which worked with developer Aleksandr Kogan to obtain data on as many as 87 million Facebook users.

That data, harvested via an innocuous-looking app, was subsequently used to target swing voters ahead of the 2016 US Presidential election, it is claimed.

The FTC Opinion confirms the allegations made in an administrative complaint issued in July: “that app users were falsely told the app would not collect users’ names or other identifiable information.”

It also states that Cambridge Analytica falsely claimed it still participated in the Privacy Shield data transfer agreement between the US and EU, despite its certification having lapsed.

“The Final Order prohibits Cambridge Analytica from making misrepresentations about the extent to which it protects the privacy and confidentiality of personal information, as well as its participation in the EU-US Privacy Shield framework and other similar regulatory or standard-setting organizations,” the FTC noted.

“In addition, the company is required to continue to apply Privacy Shield protections to personal information it collected while participating in the program (or to provide other protections authorized by law), or return or delete the information. It also must delete the personal information that it collected through the GSRApp.”

The FTC earlier this year fined Facebook a record $5 billion for deficiencies which allowed third-party app developer Kogan to get away with misleading customers and harvesting data without obtaining informed consent — on both Facebook users and their friends and family.

The social network has since announced a major new privacy-by-design push which will introduce more stringent processes to control what developers can and can’t do.

Although Kogan and former Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix have agreed to settle the FTC’s allegations, the consultancy itself filed for bankruptcy in 2018.

Source: Information Security Magazine