Facebook ends appeal against ICO micro-fine: Admit liability? Never. But you can have £500k

Antisocial network accepts Cambridge Analytica wrist slap


Facebook has ended its appeal against the UK Information Commissioner's Office and will pay the outstanding £500,000 fine for breaches of data protection law relating to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Prior to today's announcement, the social network had been appealing against the fine, alleging bias and requesting access to ICO documents related to the regulator's decision making. The ICO, in turn, was appealing a decision that it should hand over these documents.

The issue for the watchdog was the misuse of UK citizens' Facebook profile information, specifically the harvesting and subsequent sale of data scraped from their profiles to Cambridge Analytica, the controversial British consulting firm used by US prez Donald Trump's election campaign.

The app that collected the data was "thisisyourdigitallife", created by Cambridge developer Aleksandr Kogan. It hoovered up Facebook users' profiles, dates of birth, current city, photos in which those users were tagged, pages they had liked, posts on their timeline, friends' lists, email addresses and the content of Facebook messages. The data was then processed in order to create a personality profile of the user.

"Given the way our platform worked at the time," Zuck has said, "this meant Kogan was able to access tens of millions of their friends' data". Facebook has always claimed it learned of the data misuse from news reports, though this has been disputed.

Both sides will now end the legal fight and Facebook will pay the ICO a fine but make no admission of liability or guilt. The money is not kept by the data protection watchdog but goes to the Treasury consolidated fund and both sides will pay their own costs. The ICO spent an eye-watering £2.5m on the Facebook probe.

Facebook's at it again: Internal emails show it knew about Cambridge Analytica abuse 'months' before news broke

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Facebook can also keep documents handed over the ICO, which it claims will help restart its investigation into Cambridge Analytica – parts of which had been put on hold on ICO instructions.

The agreement centres on Facebook's action in handing UK citizens' data to Cambridge Analytica and the ICO's larger investigation into the misuse of private data for political purposes. This also saw campaign group Leave.eu fined a total of £60,000 for data offences.

Deputy commissioner of the ICO James Dipple-Johnstone said: "The ICO welcomes the agreement reached with Facebook for the withdrawal of their appeal against our Monetary Penalty Notice and agreement to pay the fine. The ICO's main concern was that UK citizen data was exposed to a serious risk of harm. Protection of personal information and personal privacy is of fundamental importance, not only for the rights of individuals, but also as we now know, for the preservation of a strong democracy."

Chap riding unicorn while using a smartphone and throwing away money

$0.75 – about how much Cambridge Analytica paid per voter in bid to micro-target their minds, internal docs reveal

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In October 2018 the ICO imposed a fine of £500,000 on Facebook, which equates to about 17 minutes' profit for the firm – the maximum possible fine because the offences occurred between 2013 and 2015. Under the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) brought in last year, however, Facebook could be fined 4 per cent of its $56bn global turnover.

ICO commissioner Elizabeth Denham has previously defended the massive spending on the Facebook investigation as giving the watchdog ammunition to go to government and get stronger enforcement powers. ®


Facebook decommissions 185 accounts run by Thai military

It’s not that they lied (which looks likely), it's that they all lied together, says spokesperson

Facebook has for the first time deleted accounts associated with the Thai government due to “coordinated inauthentic behavior”.

The crackdown has removed 77 individual Facebook accounts, 72 Facebook pages, 18 Facebook groups and 18 Instagram accounts.

The accounts had a collective 703,000 followers, the Facebook groups had a collective 100,000 members and the Instagram accounts had amassed 2,500 followers. They'd collectively spent $350 on ads.

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Zuck chucks Myanmar military out of Facebook and Instagram

Is The Social Network™ finally declaring a stance in democracy and politics

In the latest instalment of Myanmar vs. the internet, Myanmar's military junta has been banned from both Facebook and Instagram. Businesses affiliated with military personnel were also banned.

Facebook's ban does not include government-run essential public service ministries and agencies, such as the Ministry of Health and Sport, or the Ministry of Education.

Facebook's post cites the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar’s 2019 report [PDF], alongside documented human rights abuses, past online misinformation campaigns and incitement of violence by the the Myanmar military, or Tatmadaw, who seized power in a coup on February 1.

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Myanmar’s new military government bans Facebook

Oh look, Cloudflare spots a sudden surge in use of other messaging apps

The new self-appointed military government of Myanmar has temporarily banned Facebook.

The local arm of multinational mobile carrier Telenor said it has received an order from the nation’s Ministry of Transport and Communications and has enacted it “while expressing grave concerns regarding breach of human rights.”

Newswire Reuters’ Myanmar reporter Hnin Zaw posted a notice from Myanmar’s Ministry of Transport and Communications that imposed a ban until February 7th.

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Australia facepalms as Facebook blocks bookstores, sport, health services instead of just news

Reg writer on the spot reports that life without news links on The Social Network™ is just fine

Facebook is being flayed in Australia after its ban on sharing of links to news publications caught plenty of websites that have nothing to do with news.

The Social Network™ announced its ban with a blog post and the sudden erasure of all posts on certain Facebook pages.

Links to news outlets big and small (including The Register) are currently impossible to post to Facebook from within Australia. Australian Facebook users don’t see news links posted from outside the nation.

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Facebook and Google’s Australian pay-for-news nightmare finds a European admirer

MEP driving EU’s Digital Services Act backs down under cash dangle plan

Australia’s plan to make Facebook and Google pay for links to news content have found a toehold in the European Union.

Alex Agius Saliba, a Maltese member of the European Parliament, recently chatted to The Financial Times about the matter and cited Australia’s model as one he thinks could work in the Eurozone. If legislated, the model will see Google and Facebook required to enter arbitration with media companies that seek payment for links shared by the two web giants.

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Australia sues Facebook for slurping user data from Onavo Protect VPN app

Promised it was free and safe, but Facebook’s promises about privacy aren’t worth the mouse you click ‘em with

Australia’s competition and consumer commission (ACCC) has hauled Facebook into the nation’s Federal Court for alleged false, misleading or deceptive conduct.

The suit rests on the behaviour of Onavo Protect, a VPN app that Facebook acquired in 2013 and said would protect users’ privacy.

But by 2018 security analysts asserted that the app actually sent quite a lot of data to Facebook and pointed out that Onavo’s T&Cs permitted it to route all user data through its servers and to analyse data.

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Phishing awareness gone wrong: Facebook tries to seize websites set up for staff security training

Antisocial network sued by Proofpoint in scrap over domain names

Security biz Proofpoint and its subsidiary Wombat Security Technologies have sued Facebook and its Instagram subsidiary to prevent the seizure of internet domain names used for security testing.

Proofpoint conducts cybersecurity training for organizations, part of which includes phishing awareness testing. This involves sending participating employees simulated phishing messages with deceptive domain names to entice them to click on links or visit web pages that in a real threat scenario would be trying to trick visitors into submitting sensitive personal information like login credentials.

To do so, the firm follows the cybercrime playbook. It sets up domain names that incorporate trademarked terms, like Facebook and Instagram, or fragments of those terms that have similar looking domain names. In the context of this case, th security biz registered: facbook-login.com, facbook-login.net, instagrarn.ai, instagrarn.net, and instagrarn.org.

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In wake of Apple privacy controls, Facebook mulls just begging its iOS app users to let it track them over the web

I am once again asking for your financial support, says Zuckerberg's empire

Facebook has created a new screen in its iOS app that will urge people to allow it to continue stalking their online activities for targeted advertising.

This is in response to Apple preparing to introduce a prompt that asks users whether or not they want to grant Facebook's software permission to track them when they use other apps and websites. This choice was due to arrive in an iOS 14 software update though it was delayed after the iGiant said it wanted to give developers more time to get their heads around the change.

If permission is granted, Facebook's app can access what Apple calls its Identifier for Advertisers – a unique per-user ID that can be used to identify and track you from app to app and website to website on iOS, allowing the antisocial network to build up an idea of your interests so it can target you with ads tailored for you – ads you might click on more than random ones. Without this permission, Facebook loses this ability to easily follow iOS users around the internet.

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Australian government fights Facebook news ban by threatening 0.01% of Zuck's ad revenue

Talks continue but pay-for-news law won’t be amended

Australia’s finance minister says it is his “expectation” that the nation “will pull back from advertising on Facebook” while The Social Network continues to prevent the sharing of links to news stories in the nation.

Facebook banned the sharing of news links from Australian outlets, and all links to news articles for Australian users, in response to the nation’s News Media Bargaining Code and its requirement that The Social Network™ pay for the right to have its users post links to Australian publishers’ news content.

Google opposed the Code but has struck deals with Australian publishers. Facebook last week imposed its ban with no warning.

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Facebook appeals ruling that it stole tech. So, Italian judge issues new judgment: Pay 10 times the original fine

Everyone’s favorite social media giant ordered to pay 3.8m euros

An Italian judge has not only upheld a decision that Facebook stole a partner’s technology but issued a new fine of ten times the original amount.

The Milan appeals court decided for Italian company Business Competence, whose Faround app used data from users’ Facebook profiles to build an interactive map that showed them shops and stores nearby, together with relevant discounts and listed by category.

Faround was released in October 2012 and within just two months, Facebook had launched its version - Nearby Places. Faround was furious and after four years of fighting, the courts agreed that Facebook had stolen its concept and format, changing only its graphic layout. The US mega-corp was ordered to pull its version and publish the ruling both on its websites and in two national newspapers.

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