Almost a year and a half after the Cambridge Analytica scandal rocked Facebook and emboldened regulators around the world to clamp down on internet companies, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has found the now-defunct British data analytics company guilty of deceptive trade practices.
According to an official press release from the organization, “Cambridge Analytica, LLC engaged in deceptive practices to harvest personal information from tens of millions of Facebook users for voter profiling and targeting.”
The US trade regulator had earlier sued Cambridge Analytica, its then-CEO Alexander Nix, and app developer Aleksandr Kogan, for allegedly deceiving consumers. The administrative complaint alleged that Kogan worked with Nix and Cambridge Analytica to collect Facebook user data using Kogan’s GSRApp. The complaint alleged that the users of the app were falsely told their usernames and other identifiable information will not be collected.
The GSRApp, however, collected users’ Facebook User IDs, which connects individuals to their Facebook profiles. Both Nix and Kogan agreed to settle the FTC’s allegations for undisclosed penalties, thereby managing to escape stricter punishment. The FTC separately announced that Facebook will pay a record-breaking $5 billion penalty and submit to new restrictions that will hold the company accountable for the decisions it makes about its users’ privacy.
As mentioned already, Cambridge Analytica has been defunct for more than a year now, having filed for bankruptcy in May 2018 after being suspended from Facebook following the stunning revelations about its illicit data-mining activities that remained largely unchecked by the social media giant. That being the case, the FTC’s latest findings are only academic for the most part, but it does reveal a pattern of deceit that continues to haunt the tech industry even today.
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