Facebook! In March, Facebook announced the suspension of Cambridge Analytica, a research data analysis company, due to its unauthorized and inappropriate access and usage of Facebook’s user data.
This announcement came the previous day when reports from Guardian and the New York Times revealed that Facebook had been aware of Cambridge Analytica’s “inappropriate” and “unauthorized” use of the private data of a Facebook’s user for several years and hadn’t done anything about it.
Well, the question is; who should be blamed for the inappropriate use of consumer data? Is Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, the user themselves or another party responsible?
In several statements released by Facebook and its executives, the tech giant claimed that no “breach of data” was involved in the process, but that, user data was indeed used in an inappropriate manner. This statement holds weight as it is important for both ethical and legal reasons.
If Facebook had been involved in data breach, the company would be held responsible for State laws’ cyber-security and data breaches.
Facebook would be forced to follow certain obligations, pay huge fines and provide its users with remedies and services that would include identity protection.
In admitting there was a kind of data breach they would effectively mean Facebook was at fault.
Accordingly, if there was no data breach, it likely meant that the Facebook user data was accessed and used with permission. Facebook stated that Cambridge Analytica’s access and use of Facebook user data was “inappropriate” and “unauthorized.” Cambridge Analytica stated in response to Facebook’s statements, that it only accessed and used Facebook user data in authorized ways.
Now, who is to be blamed?
Facebook’s major defense lies on the fact that the company did not transfer its user data directly to Cambridge Analytica. Rather, as it appears, it was Aleksandr Kogan – a Moldovan-born data scientist and academic psychologist with Cambridge University, who developed a third-party app on Facebook using its API to collect personal details of 80 million Facebook. This was done under the auspices of him being an academician. Kogan sold/transferred the data to Cambridge Analytica.
So, should Facebook be blamed for the data breach when a Facebook user gives the company the permission to collect data from their profile? Well, there are lots of sides to point the finger at.
Do we as consumers, ultimately, have some responsibilities too?