Scenario – Social media and data use

An investigative report revealed personal data from Facebook has been passed on (in violation of Facebook’s rules) to British data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica and then used during its work with Donald Trump’s election campaign, and later during the Brexit vote. The Australian Privacy Commissioner officially launched an investigation against Facebook as the data of over 300 000 Australian users were ‘improperly shared’ and have been compromised.
The data was gathered through a personality quiz. The quiz was only accessed by 270,000 Facebook users, but using the app also allowed access to data from each of the users’ friends network, meaning about 80 million Facebook users were impacted.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg released a statement admitting the tech giant had “made mistakes” with its handling of personal data, and that a “breach of trust” had occurred between the company and its users. However, Facebook has denied that the incident is a “data breach”.
“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” Zuckerberg said. “We remain committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people’s information.”
The revelations have led to huge backlash against Facebook’s data gathering regulations and security protections, with calls from around the world for inquiries into Facebook’s data practices.
However, Facebook and others will soon be forced to live with new privacy rules, such as those which took effect in the European Union in May. “Facebook and Google will have to ask users for a lot more permission to track them. Most people are going to say no, so it’s going to have a huge impact.’’
Digital rights groups in Australia have called on all political parties to be more transparent about their use of personal data. In a joint statement, Digital Rights Watch, Electronic Frontiers Australia, the Australian Privacy Foundation and other groups state:
“Australian governments are pushing to collect more and more data on Australians, and to link it with larger and larger datasets. Australians must be confident that the custodians of our data will look after our best interests, proactively, and with due care and skill. We must know that our data is not being collected merely for narrow, self-interested reasons. We must be sure that this data is not being shared without our informed consent.”
This scenario is adapted, for the most part, from the following articles:
Sadler, D (Mar 27 2018) Commissioner considers action against Facebook.
Sadler, D (Apr 10 2018) Australians caught up in Facebook data scandal.
Some of the questions in this exam paper refer to this scenario.
Where information appears to be missing or incomplete, state your assumptions in your answers.

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