London, Nov 22 (AP/UNB) — Facebook has appealed its 500,000-pound ($644,000) fine for failing to protect the privacy of its users in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, arguing that U.K regulators failed to prove that British users were directly affected.
Britain's Information Commissioner Office leveled the fine after concluding Facebook processed the personal information of users unfairly by giving app developers access to their information without informed consent.
The ICO said a subset of the data was later shared with other organizations, including SCL Group, the parent company of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which counted U.S. President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign among its clients.
The ICO did not definitively assert that U.K. users had their data shared for campaigning, but said the information was harvested and "put at risk of further misuse."
Though the fine is minuscule by the standards of the tech giant's revenues, the firm appealed because of what it saw as an unacceptable precedent outlined by the decision.
"Their reasoning challenges some of the basic principles of how people should be allowed to share information online, with implications which go far beyond just Facebook, which is why we have chosen to appeal," said Facebook lawyer Anna Benckert in a statement. "For example, under ICO's theory people should not be allowed to forward an email or message without having agreement from each person on the original thread. These are things done by millions of people every day on services across the internet."
The ICO was not immediately available for comment.
Dhaka, Nov 19 (UNB) – Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has reportedly blocked telecommunication application Skype across the country.
Emdadul Haque, secretary general of Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh (ISPAB), told UNB that they have received a letter from the BTRC asking them to keep all kinds of communication from home and abroad via Skype suspended.
Several international internet gateway (IIG) service providers said they also received the letter on Sunday night.
However, acting BTRC chairman Jahurul Haque said there was no instruction from the telecom regulator about blocking Skype.
He said there might be up and down in the service somewhere following a technical problem.
Many Skype users claimed that they could not use the communication tool since morning.
London, Oct 25 (AP/UNB) — British regulators on Thursday slapped Facebook with a fine of 500,000 pounds ($644,000) — the maximum possible — for failing to protect the privacy of its users in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The Information Commissioner Office found that between 2007 and 2014, Facebook processed the personal information of users unfairly by giving app developers access to their information without informed consent. The failings meant the data of some 87 million people was used without their knowledge.
"Facebook failed to sufficiently protect the privacy of its users before, during and after the unlawful processing of this data," said Elizabeth Denham, the information commissioner. "A company of its size and expertise should have known better and it should have done better."
The ICO said a subset of the data was later shared with other organizations, including SCL Group, the parent company of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica. News that the consultancy had used data from tens of millions of Facebook accounts to profile voters and help U.S. President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign ignited a global scandal on data rights.
The fine is the maximum allowed under the law at the time the breach occurred. Had the scandal taken place after new EU data protection rules went into effect this year, the amount would have been far higher — including maximum fines of 17 million pounds or 4 percent of global turnover, whichever is higher.
"We are currently reviewing the ICO's decision," Facebook said in a statement. "While we respectfully disagree with some of their findings, we have said before that we should have done more to investigate claims about Cambridge Analytica and taken action in 2015. We are grateful that the ICO has acknowledged our full cooperation throughout their investigation."
Facebook also took solace in the fact that the ICO did not definitively assert that U.K. users had their data shared for campaigning. But the commissioner noted in her statement that "even if Facebook's assertion is correct," U.S. residents would have used the site while visiting the U.K.
New York, Oct 18 (AP/UNB) — Twitter is releasing all known accounts and posts related to "information operations" dating back to 2016, when it was first learned that foreign operators were using social media to meddle in U.S. elections.
Twitter has already disclosed the account numbers, but is now releasing the actual tweets, images, video and other information so that outside researchers can study them.
The company said Wednesday that the data comprises more than 4,600 accounts and over 10 million tweets, most affiliated with the Russia-linked Internet Research Agency and potentially linked to Iran. Twitter says the earliest activity it found on its service from these accounts dates back to 2009.
The Internet Research Agency, essentially a Russian troll farm, has been indicted by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller for its actions during the U.S. presidential election.
Facebook and other social media companies are attempting to halt election meddling and misinformation campaigns on their platforms.
But the organized campaigns continue to evolve. They are no longer focused solely on elections.
Operators linked to Russia, Iran and likely other nations have posted images, videos and other content that is intended to intensify political discord by promoting extreme views from multiple political angles.
"It is clear that information operations and coordinated inauthentic behavior will not cease," Twitter said in a blog post Wednesday. "These types of tactics have been around for far longer than Twitter has existed — they will adapt and change as the geopolitical terrain evolves worldwide and as new technologies emerge."
The datasets are available for download on Twitter's "elections integrity" page . Twitter said it is releasing the data in the hopes that independent researchers will help dissect such information operations campaigns. The tweets and other content are no longer available on Twitter itself since Twitter has deleted the fake and malicious accounts it had found.
Examples of tweets include those from the account @TEN_GOP, which pretended to be Tennessee's Republican party, and posted a photo of FBI Director James Comey with the words "resign now."
New York, Oct 13 (AP/UNB) — Facebook says hackers accessed a wide swath of information — ranging from emails and phone numbers to more personal details like sites visited and places checked into — from millions of accounts as part of a security breach the company disclosed two weeks ago.
Twenty-nine million accounts had some form of information stolen. Originally Facebook said 50 million accounts were affected, but that it didn't know if they had been misused.
The news comes at a jittery time ahead of the midterm elections when Facebook is fighting off misuse of its site on a number of fronts . The company said Friday there's no evidence this is related to the midterms.
On Friday Facebook said hackers accessed names, email addresses or phone numbers from these accounts. For 14 million of them, hackers got even more data, such as hometown, birthdate, the last 10 places they checked into or the 15 most recent searches.
An additional 1 million accounts were affected, but hackers didn't get any information from them.
Facebook isn't giving a breakdown of where these users are, but says the breach was "fairly broad." It plans to send messages to people whose accounts were hacked.
Facebook said third-party apps that use a Facebook login and Facebook apps like WhatsApp and Instagram were unaffected by the breach.
Facebook said the FBI is investigating, but asked the company not to discuss who may be behind the attack. The company said it hasn't ruled out the possibility of smaller-scale attacks that used the same vulnerability.
Facebook has said the attackers gained the ability to "seize control" of those user accounts by stealing digital keys the company uses to keep users logged in. They could do so by exploiting three distinct bugs in Facebook's code.
The hackers began with a set of accounts they controlled, then used an automated process to access the digital keys for accounts that were "friends" with the accounts they had already compromised. That expanded to "friends of friends," extending their access to about 400,000 accounts, and went on from there to reach 30 million accounts. There is no evidence that the hackers made any posts or took any other activity using the hacked accounts.
The company said it has fixed the bugs and logged out affected users to reset those digital keys.
At the time, CEO Mark Zuckerberg — whose own account was compromised — said attackers would have had the ability to view private messages or post on someone's account, but there's no sign that they did.
Facebook Vice President Guy Rosen said in a call with reporters on Friday the company hasn't ruled out the possibility of smaller-scale efforts to exploit the same vulnerability that the hackers used before it was disabled.
The company has a website its 2 billion global users can use to check if their accounts have been accessed, and if so, exactly what information was stolen. It will also provide guidance on how to spot and deal with suspicious emails or texts. Facebook will also send messages directly to those people affected by the hack.
Patrick Moorhead, founder of Moor Insights & Strategy, said the breach appeared similar to identity theft breaches that have occurred at companies including Yahoo and Target in 2013.
"Those personal details could be very easily be used for identity theft to sign up for credit cards, get a loan, get your banking password, etc.," he said. "Facebook should provide all those customers free credit monitoring to make sure the damage is minimized."
Thomas Rid, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University, also said the evidence, particularly the size of the breach, seems to point to a criminal motive rather than a sophisticated state operation, which usually targets fewer people.
"This doesn't sound very targeted at all," he said. "Usually when you're looking at a sophisticated government operation, then a couple of thousand people hacked is a lot, but they usually know who they're going after."