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Facebook rejects data breach claims after suspending SCL accounts

18 March 2018

The whistleblower told the Observer how Cambridge Analytica used personal information taken without authorisation in 2014 to build a system that could profile individual USA voters.

Mr. Kogan also improperly shared the data with Mr. Wylie, it said. The information included hometown, content the users liked and their friends.

What could be done with the data that was collected?

The app promised to give users a personality profile.

Facebook has not commented on why it did not publicly disclose the initial abuse.

Wylie said that "almost none" of the people whose profiles were tapped were aware that Cambridge Analytica had harvested their data.

The reports come a day after Facebook suspended the firm over allegations of it mishandling data from users. As Recode wrote, "Facebook contends that its technology worked exactly how Facebook built it to work".

However, according to the newspapers' investigation, copies of the large swaths of data are allegedly still available according to The New York Times. The policy of Facebook's Developer prohibits the use of users data to any other third-party companies.

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Reached by ABC News, a spokesperson for Cambridge Analytical defended their work, claiming, "It would be entirely incorrect to attempt to claim that SCL Elections illegally acquired Facebook data".

Yes. Cambridge Analytica's vice president at the time was Steve Bannon, who was also head of the right-wing website Breitbart and was running Donald Trump's campaign to become US President.

The scrutiny presented a new threat to Facebook's reputation, which was already under attack over Russians' alleged use of Facebook tools to sway American voters before and after the 2016 US elections.

Carroll said when he realized Cambridge Analytica had a British branch, he made a decision to file a subject access request in January 2017, not knowing if the company would be obliged to respond given that he isn't a British citizen.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Cambridge Analytica denied that the organization is in violation of Facebook's terms and said it is in communication with the social media site following the news it had been suspended from the platform.

In the US, Mercer's daughter, Rebekah, a board member, Bannon and Cambridge Analitica chief Alexander Nix received warnings from their lawyer that it was illegal to employ foreigners in political campaigns, according to company documents and former employees.

Facebook Deputy General Counsel Paul Grewal explained that SCL worked with Aleksandr Kogan, a psychology professor at the University of Cambridge, who developed "Thisisyourdigitallife", an app that enticed Facebook users to reveal more about their personalities.

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"Under Section 55 of the Data Protection Act...a criminal offense has not been committed if a person has acted in the reasonable belief that he had in law the right to obtain data", the Cambridge Anaytica spokesman said. Rather, according to Stamos, Kogan used Facebook exactly as it was designed - and only later broke his agreement with Facebook in passing the accumulated data on.

The Web Foundation, set up by Tim Berners-Lee to advocate for an open Internet, called for a full investigation and for all affected users to be notified. They also asked Kogan for the certifications and about the parties to whom he had provided data.

"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".

It appears the data is still circulating around the web. Cambridge Analytica told the Times that all "personnel in strategic roles were USA nationals or green card holders", the newspaper said.

Late February, during an United Kingdom inquiry into fake news, the company denied it ever worked for the Brexit camp, despite claims by the pro-Brexit campaign it had sought the advice of Cambridge Analytica. The reason for the requested documentation was in light of the investigation into the collusion between the campaign and the Russian interference.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., called the suspension "more evidence that the online political advertising market is essentially the Wild West".

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Facebook rejects data breach claims after suspending SCL accounts