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Statement: Platforms must keep user data safe

Web Foundation · March 17, 2018

Today, The New York Times and The Observer reported on the abuse of Facebook user data by voter profiling company Cambridge Analytica, including revelations by former employee and whistleblower Christopher Wylie.

Web Foundation Policy Director Craig Fagan reacted to the latest developments:

“Today’s story on Facebook and Cambridge Analytica drives home why we need platforms to be fully transparent and accountable in the age of big data. Once our personal data is in someone else’s hands, it’s extremely difficult to take back control — with potentially disastrous results for public safety, discourse and democracy. Platforms must fully embrace their responsibility to do whatever it takes to keep user data safe from abuse.

“The Western media’s focus has been on the US and UK, but this is a global challenge, with severe impacts in countries that may have even weaker institutions and legal frameworks unable to protect citizens’ data from abuse.

“In light of Facebook’s commitment to fix the issues it faces, we see four actions the company should urgently consider:

“1. A full investigation into the scope of the abuse. Not just in the US and UK, but in all countries where Cambridge Analytica has claimed it could influence election outcomes through profiling Facebook user data.

“2. Full transparency on which users have been impacted — in any countries where Cambridge Analytica was active. This should include notifications sent to each affected user as well as publicly available aggregate data on the number of user accounts affected in each jurisdiction.

“3. An explanation of why Cambridge Analytica and its associated companies were not banned sooner if Facebook was aware of the abuse.

“4. A clear explanation and publicly available guidelines on how third party apps are vetted, and the actions Facebook will take when any third party violates its terms of service.”


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