Facebook’s Data Practices Saga

As we all know, the personal data of about 87 million Facebook users have been “shared” without their knowledge with Cambridge Analytica (“CA”), a firm linked to Donald Trump’s 2016 political campaign.  Seemingly, Facebook knew of this incident in December of 2015, but Facebook users only found out this past March 17 when the New York Times reported it.  In commenting on this latest scandal, the Economist was quick to point out the Company’s “morphing, porous privacy policies and … a cavalier approach to oversight.”

When Mark Zuckerberg testifies in Congress today, U.S. lawmakers will be sure to focus on this breach’s effects on the election process and the identity of those posting news. This highlights the dramatic differences in how personal data is viewed between the U.S. and the European Union. Facebook and other data collectors fully believe that they have the right to use personal data as they deem fit. EU constituencies expect the opposite, and the new Regulation places all control over personal data in the hands of data holders. Given the global reach of any online information, uniform rules and approaches to protecting personal data would be of benefit, but given these conflicting views, we are more likely to see different data practices in the U.S. and in Europe, with data collectors applying a different treatment to U.S. data than EU personal data.

 

Leslie Williams, partner Wilson Keadjian Browndorf LLP

© 2018 Leslie Williams

This article is current as of April 10, 2018