Facebook fined $1.65 by Brazil Governenment over Cambridge Analytica

Pierluigi Paganini January 04, 2020

Early this week, Brazil fined Facebook $1.65 million for improperly sharing users’ data in a case linked to the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal.

Brazil fined Facebook $1.65 million for improperly sharing users’ data in a case linked to the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal.

According to the Brazilian prosecutors, Facebook is responsible for an “abusive practice” that allowed developers of the application “This is Your Digital Life” to access data from 443,000 users in Brazil.

The app named “thisisyourdigitallife” is available to users since 2014, it was provided by Global Science Research (GSR) and asked users to take an online survey for $1 or $2. The app requested access to the user’s profile information, and over 270,000 users gave the app permission to use their personal details for academic research.

After the scandal was discovered, Facebook “suspended” any business with Cambridge Analytica (CA) and its holding company.

“Aleksandr Kogan requested and gained access to information from users who chose to sign up to his app, and everyone involved gave their consent.” stated the official statement released by Facebook in 2018.

“Like all app developers, Kogan requested and gained access to information from people after they chose to download his app. His app, “thisisyourdigitallife,” offered a personality prediction, and billed itself on Facebook as “a research app used by psychologists.” Approximately 270,000 people downloaded the app. In so doing, they gave their consent for Kogan to access information such as the city they set on their profile, or content they had liked, as well as more limited information about friends who had their privacy settings set to allow it.”

The app was a powerful tool to profile users by harvesting information on their network of contacts, its code allowed to collect data of 87 million Facebook users and misuse it.

Brazilian authorities also began investigating the privacy scandal to determine the involvement of its citizens.

On Monday, Brazil representative stated that there was “no evidence user data in Brazil was transferred to Cambridge Analytica” and that it was evaluating legal options in this case.

“We have made changes to our platform and restricted the information accessible to app developers,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

Brazil’s Ministry of Justice pointed out that the social network giant failed in adequately informing its users “about the consequences of the default privacy settings.” Facebook was not transparent on possible consequences of privacy settings on the access to data of “friends and friends of friends.”

Facebook could appeal the decision within 10 days and has one month to pay the fine.

In July 2019, the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approved a record $5 billion settlement with Facebook over the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

In July 2019, the Italian data protection watchdog fined Facebook for one million euros ($1.1 million) for violating privacy laws over the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal.

In October 2018, Facebook was fined £500,000 by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – Cambridge Analytica, Facebook)

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