Final month the Division for Digital, Tradition, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee wrote to the corporate to boost what it stated have been discrepancies in proof Fb has given to worldwide parliamentarians vs proof submitted in response to the Washington, DC Lawyer Basic — which is suing Fb on its house turf, over the Cambridge Analytica information misuse scandal.
Yesterday Bloomberg obtained Fb’s response to the committee.
Within the letter Rebecca Stimson, the corporate’s head of U.Okay. public coverage, denies any inconsistency in proof submitted on each side of the Atlantic, writing:
The proof given to the Committees by Mike Schroepfer (Chief Know-how Officer), Lord Allan (Vice President for Coverage Options), and different Fb representatives is solely in keeping with the allegations within the SEC Grievance filed 24 July 2019. Of their proof, Fb representatives honestly answered questions on when the corporate first realized of Aleksandr Kogan / GSR’s improper switch of information to Cambridge Analytica, which was in December 2015 by way of The Guardian’s reporting. We’re conscious of no proof to recommend that Fb realized any earlier of that improper switch. As now we have informed regulators, and plenty of media tales have since reported, we heard hypothesis about information scraping by Cambridge Analytica in September 2015. Now we have additionally testified publicly that we first realized Kogan offered information to Cambridge Analytica in December 2015. These are two various things and this shouldn’t be new info.
Stimson goes on to assert that Fb merely heard “rumours in September 2015 that Cambridge Analytica was selling its capacity to scrape person information from public Fb pages”. (In statements made earlier this yr to the press on this identical level Fb has additionally used the phrase “hypothesis” to seek advice from the inner issues raised by its employees, writing that “staff heard hypothesis that Cambridge Analytica was scraping information”.)
Within the newest letter, Stimson repeats Fb’s earlier line about information scraping being widespread for public pages (which can be true, however loads of Fb customers’ pages aren’t public to anybody apart from their hand-picked pals so… ), earlier than claiming it’s not the identical as the method by which Cambridge Analytica obtained Fb information (i.e. by paying a developer on Fb’s platform to construct an app that harvested customers’ and customers pals’ information).
“The scraping of information from public pages (which is sadly widespread for any web service) is completely different from, and has no relationship to, the illicit switch to 3rd events of information obtained by an app developer (which was the topic of the December 2015 Guardian article and of Fb representatives’ proof),” she writes, suggesting a ‘sketchy’ information modeling firm with deep Fb platform penetration seemed like ‘enterprise as standard’ for Fb administration again in 2015.
As we’ve reported earlier than, it has emerged this yr — by way of submissions to different US authorized proceedings towards Fb — that employees working for its political promoting division raised inside issues about what Cambridge Analytica was as much as in September 2015, months previous to The Guardian article which Fb founder Mark Zuckerberg has claimed is the purpose when he personally realized what Cambridge Analytica was doing on his platform.
These Fb employees described Cambridge Analytica as a “sketchy (to say the least) information modeling firm that has penetrated our market deeply” — months earlier than the newspaper printed its scoop on the story, per an SEC criticism which netted Fb a $100M high-quality, along with the FTC’s $5BN privateness penalty.
Nonetheless, Fb is as soon as claiming there’s nothing however ‘rumors’ to see right here.
The DCMS committee additionally queried Fb’s flat denial to the Washington, DC Lawyer Basic that the corporate knew of some other apps misusing person information; did not take correct measures to safe person information by failing to implement its personal platform coverage; and did not open up to customers when their information was misused — mentioning that Fb reps informed it on a number of events that Fb knew of different apps violating its insurance policies and had taken motion towards them.
Once more, Fb denies any contradiction in any respect right here.
“The actual allegation you cite asserts that Fb knew of third get together functions that violated its insurance policies and did not take cheap measures to implement towards them,” writes Stimson. “As now we have constantly said to the Committee and elsewhere, we usually take motion towards apps and builders who violate our insurance policies. We subsequently appropriately, and constantly with what we informed the Committee, denied the allegation.”
So, seems, Fb was solely flat denying some of the allegations in para 43 of the Washington, DC Lawyer Basic’s criticism. However the firm doesn’t see bundling responses to a number of allegations underneath one blanket denial as in any approach deceptive…
In a tweet responding to Fb’s newest denial, DCMS committee chair Damian Collins dubbed the corporate’s response “sometimes disingenuous” — earlier than mentioning: “They didn’t beforehand open up to us issues about Cambridge Analytica previous to Dec 2015, or say what they did about it & haven’t shared outcomes of investigations into different Apps.”
On the app audit challenge, Stimson’s letter justifies Fb’s failure to supply the DCMS committee with the requested info on different ‘sketchy’ apps it’s investigating, writing it is because the investigation — which CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced in a Fb weblog publish on March 21, 2018; saying then that it could “examine all apps that had entry to massive quantities of data”; “conduct a full audit of any app with suspicious exercise”; “ban any developer from our platform that doesn’t comply with a radical audit”; and ban any builders discovered to have misused person information; and “inform everybody affected by these apps” — is, er, “ongoing”.
Greater than a yr in the past Fb did reveal that it had suspended round 200 suspicious apps out of “hundreds” reviewed. Nonetheless updates on Zuckerberg’s nice app audit have been skinny on the bottom since then, to say the least.
“We’ll replace the Committee as we publicly share further details about that in depth effort,” says Stimson now.