Of late, Facebook has been in the news quite often and obviously not at all for good reasons. The wave of allegations points to the fact that British Firm Cambridge Analytica had illegally gained access to data of 50 million Facebook users to manipulate the outcome of the US Presidential Elections in 2016. Also, Facebook, under immense pressure, is being probed by authorities in Europe and the US.
Further additions to this story states of the CEO of Cambridge Analytica being suspended earlier this week after allegations had been proved. In a sting operation by Britain’s Channel 4 News, Alexander Nix is heard boasting to an undercover reporter that his company helped Donald Trump win the elections.
In lieu of this, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently vowed to “step up” to fix problems surrounding data privacy, as this leads to a scandal over the hijacking of personal data from millions of its users. Also, here, Zuckerberg has specifically mentioned India’s forthcoming elections, when replying to a question on how the social media giant would curb the influence of external elements in the election processes of various countries. His tweeter post read that Facebook has a “responsibility” to protect its users’ data and if it fails, “we don’t deserve to serve you”.
The consequence of this breach led to the dropping of shares by almost 8% since the revelations were first published, raising questions about whether social media sites are violating users’ privacy.
Also, even before this scandal took place, Facebook has already taken the most important steps to prevent a recurrence, Zuckerberg added. For example, in 2014, it reduced access outside apps had to user data. However, even after this, some of the measures didn’t pay much of a heed, even after a year, allowing Cambridge to access the data in the intervening months.
In a separate post, Facebook then added that it would inform people whose data would be misused by apps. And in the future, when it would ban an app for misusing people’s data, Facebook promises to tell everyone who used it.
Facebook first learned of this breach of privacy more than two years ago, but strangely hadn’t mentioned it publicly until Friday.
India’s reaction to this FB data breach:
Union Information and Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad warned Facebook of “stringent action”, including “summoning” Zuckerberg to India, if the data of any Indian user is stolen. Recently, in a press conference, he added that any attempt “to covertly or overtly influence free and fair elections through means that are undesirable” would“neither be appreciated nor permitted”, and would attract charges under the IT Act.
Further, he added that the government has approached the US Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice to assess privacy violations of Indian users, stating that, “Mr. Mark Zuckerberg, you better note the observation of the IT Minister of India. We welcome Facebook in India, but if any data theft of Indians is done through the collusion of Facebook’s system, it shall not be tolerated. We have got stringent powers in the IT Act, we shall use it, including summoning you to India”.