Reaction and developments generated by last weekend's revelations that Cambridge Analytica processed and did not delete Facebook user data continue apace around the world.
Article 29 Working Party Chairwoman Andrea Jelinek said Wednesday the collection of EU data protection authorities is investigating the recent revelations involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, with the U.K. Information Commissioner's Office taking the lead role, Euractiv reports. "This is a very serious allegation with far-reaching consequences for data protection rights of individuals and the democratic process," she said. European Data Protection Supervisor Giovanni Butarelli said the incident "could be the scandal of the century."
ICO Commissioner Elizabeth Denham spoke with Channel 4 News Monday night about her investigation, saying it's much larger than Facebook-Cambridge Analytica. "Our investigation involves more than 30 organizations, social media companies, data analytics companies, political campaigns, and political parties," Denham said, "so it is a wide and comprehensive investigation so that we can explain to the public what happens to their data during political campaigning."
In answering whether the ICO has the resources to fully investigate Cambridge Analytica, Denham said the ICO has "prioritized" the case and has 10 full-time staff currently investigating. Denham also noted she has asked for "more power under the U.K. Data Protection Bill to compel companies and organizations to provide us with the information we need to carry out our task." She also said Facebook has been cooperative with the investigation, but Cambridge Analytica has not.
EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jerova also appeared on Channel 4 News from Washington, D.C. She said the incident was "horrifying" and that she'll be talking with U.S. Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross Wednesday, particularly about the U.S. enforcement of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield agreement, which is overseen by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny said the agency "takes the allegations that the data of millions of people were used without proper authorization very seriously," adding that, "Consumers need stronger protections for the digital age such as comprehensive data security and privacy laws, transparency and accountability for data brokers, and rights to and control over their data."
Data protection authorities in Canada, Australia and India have all opened up investigations into the matter, as well.
In response, Facebook has reportedly sent officials to Capitol Hill to help smooth over the fallout. On Wednesday morning, reports emerged that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg "plans to speak out in the next 24 hours" on the revelations. The company held an internal Q&A for employees Tuesday, but The Daily Beast reports that top executives Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg were not present.
Former Facebook employee Sandy Parakilas told The Guardian that numerous companies harvested user data and enforcement of how third parties processed user data was lax. "My concerns were that all of the data that left Facebook servers to developers could not be monitored by Facebook, so we had no idea what developers were doing with the data," he said.
As for Cambridge Analytica, the company's board announced Tuesday that it has suspended CEO Alexander Nix after he was caught on tape by reporters saying the company could use bribes and other means to entrap politicians and other candidates. However, Carole Cadwalladr, a reporter for The Guardian and the Observer, tweeted that an ex-employee told her that "Cambridge Analytica is a legal fiction" and that CA is essentially a "shell company."
Top image: Screenshot from Channel 4 News interview with ICO Commissioner Elizabeth Denham.
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