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Posts Tagged ‘#facebook’

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Facebook loses Belgian privacy case, faces a hefty fine

February 19, 2018

A Belgian court threatened Facebook with a fine of up to 100mil euros (RM480mil) if it continued to break privacy laws by tracking people on third party websites.

In a case brought by Belgium’s privacy watchdog, the court also ruled on Friday that Facebook had to delete all data it had gathered illegally on Belgian citizens, including people who were not Facebook users themselves.

Facebook, which will be fined 250,000 euros (RM1.2mil) a day or up to 100 million euros if it does not comply with the court’s judgement, said in a statement it would appeal the ruling.

“Facebook informs us insufficiently about gathering information about us, the kind of data it collects, what it does with that data and how long it stores it,” the court said.

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The social media group uses different methods to track the online behaviour of people if they are not on the company’s web site by placing cookies and invisible pixels on third party web sites, the court said.

Facebook said the technologies it uses were in line with industry standards and it gives users the right to opt out of data collection on websites and applications off its platform being used for advertisements.

“We’ll comply with this new law, just as we’ve complied with existing data protection law in Europe,” said Richard Allan, Facebook’s vice president of public policy for Europe, Middle East Africa.

Belgium’s privacy watchdog welcomed the ruling.

“Facebook has just launched a large campaign where they stress the importance of privacy. We hope they will now make this a reality,” it said. — Reuters

Read more at https://www.thestar.com.my/tech/tech-news/2018/02/19/facebook-loses-belgian-privacy-case-and-faces-a-hefty-fine/#7SQduj6FoywOZECt.99

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SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 24:  Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder of Facebook, delivers his keynote address at the CTIA WIRELESS I.T. & Entertainment 2007 conference October 24, 2007 in San Francisco, California. The confernence is showcasing the lastest in mobile technology and will run through October 25.  (Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images)

Google and Facebook are watching our every move online. It’s time to make them stop

January 31, 2018

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, left, and Google CEO Larry Page
To make any real progress in advancing data privacy this year, we have to start doing something about Google and Facebook. Not doing so would be like trying to lose weight without changing your diet. Simply ineffective.

The impact these two companies have on our privacy cannot be understated. You may know that hidden trackers lurk on most websites you visit, soaking up your personal information.

What you may not realize, though, is 76 percent of websites now contain hidden Google trackers, and 24 percent have hidden Facebook trackers, according to the Princeton Web Transparency & Accountability Project. The next highest is Twitter with 12 percent. It is likely that Google or Facebook are watching you on many sites you visit, in addition to tracking you when using their products.

As a result, these two companies have amassed huge data profiles on each person, which can include your interests, purchases, search, browsing and location history, and much more. They then make your sensitive data profile available for invasive targeted advertising that can follow you around the Internet.

This advertising system is designed to enable hyper-targeting, which has many unintended consequences, such as the ability for bad actors to use the system to influence the most susceptible or to exclude groups in a way that facilitates discrimination.

“These two companies have amassed huge data profiles on each person, which can include your interests, purchases, search, browsing and location history, and much more.”
Because of their entrenched positions in a wide array of Internet services, each collecting personal information that together combine into these massive digital profiles, Google and Facebook can offer hyper-targeting much better than the competition.

As a result, they now make up 63 percent of all digital advertising, and accounted for 74 percent of this market’s growth in 2017, according to eMarketer. Together they form a tight digital advertising duopoly, showing no signs of abating.

Google and Facebook also use your data as input for increasingly sophisticated AI algorithms that put you in a filter bubble — an alternate digital universe that controls what you see in their products, based on what their algorithms think you are most likely to click on.

These echo chambers distort people’s reality, creating a myriad of unintended consequences such as increasing societal polarization. On their unending march to profit from more and more personal information, Google and Facebook have shown little regard for all the negative consequences of their runaway algorithms.

So how do we move forward from here?

Don’t be fooled by claims of self-regulation, as any useful long-term reforms of Google and Facebook’s data privacy practices fundamentally oppose their core business models: hyper-targeted advertising based on more and more intrusive personal surveillance. Change must come from the outside.

Unfortunately, we’ve seen relatively little from Washington. Congress and federal agencies need to take a fresh look at what can be done to curb these data monopolies. They first need to demand more algorithmic and privacy policy transparency, so people can truly understand the extent of how their personal information is being collected, processed and used by these companies. Only then can informed consent be possible.

They also need to legislate that people own their own data, enabling real opt-outs. Finally, they need to restrict how data can be combined including being more aggressive at blocking acquisitions that further consolidate data power, which will pave the way for more competition in digital advertising.

Until we see such meaningful changes, consumers should vote with their feet. DuckDuckGo found that about a quarter of American adults are already taking significant actions to take back their privacy. Helping in this effort are seamless browser add-ons that will block Google and Facebook’s hidden trackers across the Internet, as well as more private alternatives to their core services. I can say from my own experience, you can indeed live Google and Facebook free.

If we do nothing about Google and Facebook, we will get more of the same: more hyper-targeting, more algorithmic bias, less competition and the further erosion of collateral industries, like media. Enough is enough.

The complete loss of personal privacy in the Internet age is not inevitable. Through thoughtful regulation and increased consumer choice, we can choose a brighter path. I hope to look back at 2018 as a turning point in data privacy, where we awoke to the unacceptable implications of two companies controlling so much of our digital future.

Commentary by Gabriel Weinberg, CEO and founder of DuckDuckGo, which makes online privacy tools, including an alternative search engine to Google. Follow him on Twitter @yegg .

For more insight from CNBC contributors, follow @CNBCopinion on Twitter.

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French Privacy Watchdog Raps WhatsApp Over Facebook Data Sharing

December 18, 2017

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – France’s data privacy watchdog may fine messaging app WhatsApp if it does not comply with an order to bring its sharing of user data with parent company Facebook into line with French privacy law.

The French data protection authority – CNIL – said on Monday it had told WhatsApp to comply with the order within one month, and pay particular attention to obtaining users’ consent. If Whatsapp does not comply it could sanction the company, the watchdog said.

The CNIL said WhatsApp did not have the legal basis to share user data with Facebook and had violated its obligation to cooperate with the French authority.

WhatsApp, bought by Facebook in 2014, said it would begin sharing some user data with the social media group in 2016, drawing warnings from European privacy watchdogs about getting the appropriate consent.

In October, European Union privacy regulators rapped WhatsApp for not resolving their concerns over the messaging service’s sharing of user data with Facebook a year after they first issued a warning.

The French regulator said that WhatsApp had not properly obtained users’ consent to begin sharing their phone numbers with Facebook for “business intelligence” purposes.

“The only way to refuse the data transfer for “business intelligence” purpose is to uninstall the application,” the CNIL said in a statement.

The regulator accepted that the transfer of user data for security purposes seemed to be essential to the functioning of the application. But the watchdog also said the same did not apply for “business intelligence” purposes which aim to improve the apps’ performance.

European data protection authorities can only impose small fines at the moment, but a new EU privacy law entering into force next year will increase fines to up to 4 percent of a company’s global turnover.

The CNIL said it had repeatedly asked WhatsApp to provide a sample of French users’ data transferred to Facebook but the company had explained it could not do so as it is located in the United States and “it considers that it is only subject to the legislation of this country.”

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Spain slaps Facebook with €1.2 million fine for breaking privacy laws

September 12, 2017

Spain’s data protection watchdog has fined Facebook €1.2 million euros (roughly $1.44 million), after it found three instances when it collected personal data on its Spanish users without informing them of how it was to be used.

The judgement is the latest in a series of legal issues that have befallen the social media giant. According to Mark Scott, Politico’s Chief Politics correspondent, the French, German, and Dutch governments are also looking into how Facebook holds and uses data pertaining to their citizens.

The Spanish data protection authority said that Facebook’s privacy policy contains “generic and unclear terms,” and doesn’t go far enough to collect the consent of its users.

Facebook will likely appeal this ruling. It previously overturned a similar judgement in Belgium, having successfully argued that its base in Ireland means that it’s only subject to Irish law.

€1.2 million euros barely constitutes a slap on the wrist for a company that has Q2 revenues of $9.32 billion. That said, it’s probably relieved the ruling came before the introduction of the tough new GDPR rules, which could have seen the company fined a percentage of its global annual turnover.

We’ve reached out to Facebook, and will update this post if we hear back from it.

“We take note of the DPA’s decision with which we respectfully disagree. Whilst we value the opportunities we’ve had to engage with the DPA to reinforce how seriously we take the privacy of people who use Facebook, we intend to appeal this decision.

“As we made clear to the DPA, users choose which information they want to add to their profile and share with others, such as their religion. However, we do not use this information to target adverts to people.”

“Facebook has long complied with EU data protection law through our establishment in Ireland. We remain open to continuing to discuss these issues with the DPA, whilst we work with our lead regulator the Irish Data Protection Commissioner as we prepare for the EU’s new data protection regulation in 2018.”

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Facebook’s ads just keep creeping into new apps

July 27, 2017

Scrolling through an ad-free Instagram is now a distant memory, much like the once ad-free Facebook itself. Soon, users of its Messenger app will begin to see advertisements, too — and WhatsApp may not be too far behind.

Welcome to the Facebook ad creep.

The world’s biggest social media company has squeezed about as many ads onto its main platform as it can. The fancy term for this is “ad load,” and Facebook warned investors back in 2016 that it has pretty much maxed it out . Put any more ads in front of users and they might start complaining — or worse, just leave.

As such, Facebook, a free service that relies almost completely on ads to make money, has to keep finding new and creative ways to let businesses hawk their stuff on its properties.

One solution is to spread ads beyond Facebook itself, onto the other popular messaging and photo-sharing apps it owns.

So far, it’s working. On Wednesday, Facebook posted a 71 percent increase in net income to $3.89 billion, or $1.32 per share, from $2.28 billion, or 78 cents a share, a year ago.

Revenue for the three months that ended on June 30 rose 45 percent to $9.32 billion from $6.44 billion. The Menlo Park, California-based company’s monthly active user base grew 17 percent to 2.01 billion.

INSTAGRAM

Ads began arriving on Instagram, which Facebook bought in 2012 for $1 billion, in 2013. It was a slow and careful rollout, and tells us a lot about Facebook’s subsequent ad strategy.

The company didn’t want to upset Instagram’s loyal fans, who were used to scrolling through beautiful landscapes, stylized breakfast shots and well-groomed kittens in their feed. An ad for headache pills would have interrupted the flow. So Instagram started off with just a few ads it considered “beautiful,” selected from hand-picked businesses. For a while, CEO Kevin Systrom reviewed every ad before it went live.

Four years later, things have changed a bit, although to Instagram’s credit, not so much as to alienate significant numbers of its 700 million users (up from 100 million in 2013). There are more ads now, Systrom no longer inspects them before publication, and while many could still be called “beautiful,” users are also likely to see generic ads not specifically created for Instagram.

By this point, though, people seem to have gotten used to them.

MESSENGER

Facebook has already been testing ads on its primary chat app, and earlier this month it announced it will expand this test globally. Paralleling its experience with Instagram, Facebook told developers and businesses they can start showing ads — specifically for brands that people “love” or that offer an “opportunity to discover experiences” — to Messenger’s 1.2 billion users.

A tsunami it won’t be. Facebook product manager Ted Helwick wrote in a blog post that a “small percentage” of Messenger users will start seeing ads by the end of July. The company will then study that limited rollout to ensure that it’s delivering “the best experience.”

Of course, even a small percentage of 1.2 billion users could be tens of millions of people. But this gives Facebook a chance to see what works and what doesn’t without mass revolt.

And it highlights the importance of Facebook’s decision to spin out the Messenger app from its main Facebook app (and to start pressuring people to use it ). While Facebook billed its decision as a way to make Messenger easier to use, it also essentially doubled the available real estate for its mobile ads.

In a conference call with analysts on Wednesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he wants to see the company “move a little faster” when it comes to ads on Messenger, but added that he is “confident that we’re going to get this right over the long term.”

WHATSAPP AND MORE

With its popularity outside the U.S. and in developing countries, WhatsApp might be a harder nut to crack when it comes to ads. But there are signs it’s coming. It’s true that WhatsApp’s CEO Jan Koum promised users they can count on ” absolutely no ads interrupting your communication” when Facebook bought the company in 2014 for $19 billion.

But last August, WhatsApp updated its privacy policy to reflect that the service would be sharing user data with Facebook so that it could “offer better friend suggestions” and “show you more relevant ads” on Facebook and its other properties.

That doesn’t mean that ads will appear on WhatsApp right away. But in the same post, the company also said it wants people to be able to communicate with businesses, not just people. That’s exactly how Messenger began dabbling in the advertising business.

What else can Facebook do?

“One, they will raise their rates on ads,” said Matt Britton, CEO of social media marketing company CrowdTap. “Because they can. The value is tremendous for advertisers right now, including for video ads.”

For eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson, Facebook video presents the biggest opportunity for ad-business growth. How people will respond to Messenger ads remains uncertain, she said. But with video, Facebook is doing what people already know, taking short and long-form programs and inserting ads in the middle.

That lets Facebook attract money from “traditional video advertisers,” she said — meaning the folks who honed their talents inserting ads into prime-time shows.

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