A (Apolo­gies) to Z (Zucker­berg) of the Great Data Leak

There is a good rea­son why a company that of­fers its prime prod­ucts for free is val­u­ated as one of the rich­est cor­po­ra­tions in the world. The prod­uct of Face­book - it has al­ways been known, is us.

Alive - - Contents - ■ by Ma­haraaj K Koul

In God we trust. All oth­ers must bring data.” - W Ed­wards Dem­ing (statis­ti­cian). Per­sonal data of over 5.6 lakh In­dian users was har­vested by an app that shared its records with Lon­don-based an­a­lyt­ics and con­sult­ing company Cam­bridge An­a­lyt­ica (CA), the so­cial net­work gi­ant Face­book Inc said in a state­ment on 5 April. Face­book has over 217 mil­lion monthly ac­tive users in In­dia and over 2 bil­lion monthly ac­tive users glob­ally.

These half a mil­lion In­dian users were af­fected af­ter 335 users in­stalled the now in­ac­tive app ‘this is your dig­i­tal life ’. Glob­ally, Face­book es­ti­mates a to­tal of 87 mil­lion users to have been af­fected. CA has claimed that it re­ceived data for less than half that num­ber -30 mil­lion - and that it has been de­stroyed.

A Face­book spokesper­son ex­plained how they ar­rived at the In­dian fig­ure. “The num­bers that we now have are that only 335 peo­ple in In­dia in­stalled the app, which is 0.1 per cent of the

app’s to­tal world­wide in­stalls. We fur­ther un­der­stand that 562,120 ad­di­tional peo­ple in In­dia were po­ten­tially af­fected, as friends of peo­ple who in­stalled the app. This yields a to­tal of 562,455 po­ten­tially af­fected peo­ple in In­dia, which is 0.6 per cent of the global num­ber of po­ten­tially af­fected peo­ple,” the spokesper­son added.

Ac­tive on Face­book be­tween 2013 and 2015, ‘this is your dig­i­tal life’ used to let Face­book users take per­son­al­ity quizzes. When users au­tho­rized the app on their Face­book pro­files, it got ac­cess to their data (de­mo­graphic de­tails, likes, groups, etc) and also that of their friends. The app was de­vel­oped by re­searcher Alek­sander Ko­gan, who founded a company called Global Science Re­search (GSR).

Col­lect­ing data on the pre­text of psy­cho­log­i­cal re­search, GSR passed on this ex­ten­sive trove to its client CA, which then used it to psy­cho­log­i­cally pro­file users and tar­get them for the 2016 US elec­tions for the Repub­li­can Party can­di­dates, in­clud­ing US Pres­i­dent Don­ald trump. Ac­cord­ing to a re­port in the Bri­tish news­pa­per Guardian, GSR co-founder Joseph Chan­cel­lor is em­ployed with Face­book.

Mis­use

One fine day, we all woke up and were told that Face­book sold our data to CA and then they made das­tardly pro­files of us to tar­get us with ads and po­lit­i­cal pro­pa­ganda. Time and again, we’ve been told that the sapi­ent Face­book al­go­rithm re­mem­bers ev­ery­thing you say and do, an­tic­i­pates all your fu­ture needs, and lis­tens to the

Ac­tive on Face­book be­tween 2013 and 2015, ‘this is your dig­i­tal life’ used to let Face­book users take per­son­al­ity quizzes. When users au­tho­rized the app on their Face­book pro­files, it got ac­cess to their data (de­mo­graphic de­tails, likes, groups, etc) and also that of their friends. The app was de­vel­oped by re­searcher Alek­sander Ko­gan, who founded a company called Global Science Re­search (GSR).

most ba­nal li­tany of your life.

More than your mom, your part­ner or your shrink, it’s the Face­book al­go­rithm which is in­ter­ested in all your quo­tid­ian use­less­ness. It is not the stranger who ac­cesses your post that should worry you. The big­gest per­pe­tra­tor of pri­vacy vi­o­la­tion on Face­book is Face­book it­self. There is a good rea­son why a company that of­fers its prime prod­ucts for free is val­u­ated as one of the rich­est cor­po­ra­tions in the world. The prod­uct of Face­book - it has al­ways been known - is us.

Face­book sold us?

Why, then, are we sud­denly taken aback at the fact that Face­book sold us? We may be mak­ing a bee­line for #DeleteFace­book, how much of our dig­i­tal life we are will­ing to erase? Face­book’s prob­lem isn’t re­ally a Face­book prob­lem. It is al­most the en­tire World Wide Web, where we’ve lost the bat­tle for data own­er­ship and plat­form open­ness more than two decades ago.

Name one pri­vately owned free service that you use on the Internet and

Name one pri­vately owned free service that you use on the Internet and any­one can show you the sec­tion in its “terms and con­di­tions” where you’ve sur­ren­dered your data. In fact, you can­not even find govern­ment ser­vices, tied up with their pri­vate part­ners, where your data is safe and stored in pri­vacy vaults.

any­one can show you the sec­tion in its “terms and con­di­tions” where you’ve sur­ren­dered your data. In fact, you can­not even find govern­ment ser­vices, tied up with their pri­vate part­ners, where your data is safe and stored in pri­vacy vaults where it won’t be abused.

As we forego own­er­ship for con­ve­nience, as our gov­ern­ments sold our sovereignty for prof­its and as dig­i­tal cor­po­ra­tions be­came be­he­moths that now have the ca­pac­ity to chal­lenge and write our

con­sti­tu­tional and fun­da­men­tal rights, we are wak­ing up to a bat­tle that has al­ready been fought and re­solved. A large part of our phys­i­cal hard­ware to ac­cess the Internet is pri­vately owned. This means that al­most all our PCs, tablets, phones, servers are owned and open to ex­ploita­tion by pri­vate com­pa­nies. Ev­ery time your phone does an au­to­matic up­date or your PC goes into house-clean­ing mode, you’ve to re­al­ize that you are be­ing stored some­where in the cloud in ways that you can­not imag­ine.

Meanwhile, wear­ing a suit in­stead of his usual gray T-shirt, Mark Zucker­berg (33) was ques­tioned for nearly five hours (on 10 April) and for more than seven hours (on 11 April) by US law­mak­ers. The sen­a­to­rial ques­tion­ing fo­cused on con­cerns about data pri­vacy, con­trol and reg­u­la­tion, high­light­ing how the ad­ver­tis­ing busi­ness model dis­in­cen­tives pri­vacy pro­tec­tion. Zucker­berg re­sponded with apolo­gies and prom­ises of in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions and reme­dies.

In de­fence

Zucker­berg has found him­self with few de­fend­ers in the world tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try. Ap­ple Inc CEO Tim Cook, Tesla Inc’s Elon Musk and ‘Sales­force.com’ Inc’s Marc Be­nioff have crit­i­cized the so­cial me­dia net­work in the wake of its user data scan­dal in­volv­ing CA. Jack Ma, the bil­lion­aire

co-founder of Chi­nese ecom­merce gi­ant Alibaba, urged Zucker­berg to tackle the grow­ing crit­i­cism aimed at Face­book by reg­u­la­tors and users around the world and “re­ally take it se­ri­ously”. Jack Ma is China’s rich­est man and chair­man of Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd. Face­book is banned in China.

Prophecy of sorts

One could say it was a prophecy of sorts. Sir Tim Bern­ers-Lee, the cre­ator of the World Wide Web wrote in an open let­ter ear­lier in March that large tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies may re­quire more reg­u­la­tion. In his let­ter, Bern­ers-Lee warned that “the re­spon­si­bil­ity and some­times bur­den - of mak­ing these de­ci­sions falls on com­pa­nies that have been built to max­i­mize

In his let­ter, Bern­ers Lee warned that “the re­spon­si­bil­ity and some­times bur­den - of mak­ing these de­ci­sions falls on com­pa­nies that have been built to max­i­mize profit more than to max­i­mize so­cial good.” A le­gal or reg­u­la­tory frame­work that ac­counts for so­cial ob­jec­tives may help these ten­sions, he wrote.

profit more than to max­i­mize so­cial good.” A le­gal or reg­u­la­tory frame­work that ac­counts for so­cial ob­jec­tives may help these ten­sions, he wrote.

Bern­ers-Lee joins Bill Gates in warn­ing about im­pend­ing govern­ment reg­u­la­tion for tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies. “The com­pa­nies need to be care­ful that they’re not ad­vo­cat­ing things that would pre­vent the govern­ment from be­ing able to, un­der ap­pro­pri­ate re­view, per­form the type of func­tions that we’ve come to count on,” Gates had said in an interview ear­lier.

Sales­force.com CEO

Marc Be­nioff said in 2017 that so­cial me­dia com­pa­nies may re­quire fur­ther reg­u­la­tion. “We need to de­cide what kind of a so­ci­ety we’re go­ing to have go­ing for­ward,” he said. “You can see that what’s hap­pen­ing with the so­cial net­works and the elec­tions. You know where these tech­nolo­gies re­ally go out of con­trol that even they did not know what was hap­pen­ing.”

Im­pact

Meanwhile, Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi is un­der­stood to have ex­pressed se­ri­ous con­cern over data leaks and al­leged ma­nip­u­la­tion of user in­for­ma­tion by global Internet and so­cial me­dia gi­ants. Re­port­edly, the Prime Min­is­ter has in­structed that data shar­ing should be reg­u­lated and servers be lo­cated within the coun­try. The ma­jor­ity of user data gen­er­ated on plat­forms of com­pa­nies such as Google, Face­book, What­sApp and In­sta­gram is stored across servers lo­cated in­ter­na­tion­ally.

More­over, ac­cess to these servers - and the in­for­ma­tion they hold - is highly reg­u­lated by US laws and cer­tain in­ter­na­tional treaties. Modi’s call for lo­cal servers comes days af­ter bank­ing reg­u­la­tor Re­serve Bank of In­dia man­dated that all pay­ment sys­tem op­er­a­tors have to store data within In­dia by Septem­ber.

Mark Zucker­berg ad­dress­ing au­di­ence dur­ing a meet­ing of the Asia-Pacific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion.

As al­leged, What­sApp shares in­for­ma­tion with

Face­book with­out the user's con­sent.

Data pri­vacy is in­deed a Hu­man Right in the present time.

Se­cu­rity for pri­vacy on data pro­tec­tion.

The num­ber of face­book users in In­dia is more than 217 mil­lion.

Union MIn­is­ter of IT Ravi Shankar Prasad ad­dress­ing press conference

over data leak by Face­book.

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