The US Federal Trade Commission has ruled that Cambridge Analytica successfully deceived tens of millions of users and harvested their data for commercial benefit and extremely accurate political targeting.
The ruling comes in the wake of a 5-0 ruling in favor of issuing the ‘Opinion and Final Order’ to Cambridge Analytica, after the company managed to obtain data from 87 million Facebook users. It is claimed that “the data, harvested via an innocuous-looking app, was subsequently used to target swing voters ahead of the 2016 US Presidential election,” according to Info Security Magazine.
The FTC Opinion and Final Order acted to confirm allegations raised in an administrative complaint issued earlier this year in July stating that “the app users were falsely told the app would not collect users’ names or other identifiable information.”
In addition, the order also mentions that Cambridge Analytica was lying when it said the company took part in the Privacy Shield data transfer agreement between the United States and European Union- in reality, the certification had lapsed without being renewed.
In the FTC’s statement, the commission said that “the Final Order prohibits Cambridge Analytica from making misrepresentations about the extent to which it protects the privacy and confidentiality of personal information, as well as its participation in the EU-US Privacy Shield framework and other similar regulatory or standard-setting organizations.”
“In addition, the company is required to continue to apply Privacy Shield protections to personal information it collected while participating in the program (or to provide other protections authorized by law), or return or delete the information. It also must delete the personal information that it collected through the GSRApp.”
Cambridge Analytica filed for bankruptcy in 2018 in the wake of the privacy scandal going public. Earlier this year, the FTC fined Facebook USD $5-billion for “deficiencies which allowed third-party app developer Kogan to get away with misleading customers and harvesting data without obtaining informed consent- on both Facebook users and their friends and family,” according to reports. Facebook has since introduced a ‘privacy-by-design’ push, aimed at familiarising its users with a more robust set of standards to control the data they’re sharing while using the service, and third-party applications on Facebook.