SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday admitted that his company has made mistakes in how it handled data belonging to 50 million of its users and promised tougher steps to restrict developers’ access to such information.
Zuckerberg, in his first public comments since the scandal erupted at the weekend, said in a post on Facebook that the company “made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it.”
“I want to share an update on the Cambridge Analytica situation — including the steps we have already taken and our next steps to address this important issue. I’ve been working to understand exactly what happened and how to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” the Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook.
“The good news is that the most important actions to prevent this from happening again today we have already taken years ago. But we also made mistakes, there’s more to do, and we need to step up and do it,” he added.
The world’s largest social media network is facing growing government scrutiny in Europe and the United States about a whistleblower’s allegations that London-based political consultancy Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed user information to build profiles on American voters which were later used to help elect US President Donald Trump in 2016.Follow @gorkhapost
Android apps may be illegally tracking children, study finds
Over 3300 free and popular children’s Android apps available on the Google Play Store could be violating child privacy laws, according to a new, large-scale study, highlighting growing criticism of Silicon Valley’s data collection efforts.
Researchers using an automated testing process have discovered that 3,337 family and child oriented Android apps on Google Play were improperly collecting kids’ data, potentially putting them in violation of the US’ Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA law (which limits data collection for kids under 13).
Only a small number were particularly glaring violations, but many apps exhibited behavior that could easily be seen as questionable.
Researchers analyzed nearly 6,000 apps for children and found that 3,337 of them may be in violation of the COPPA, according to the study report. The tested apps collected the personal data of children under age 13 without their parent’s permission, the study found.
“This is a market failure,” said Serge Egelman, a co-author of the study and the director of usable security and privacy research at the International Computer Science Institute at the University of California, Berkeley.
“The rampant potential violations that we have uncovered points out basic enforcement work that needs to be done.”
The researchers are adamant that they’re not showing ‘definitive legal liability.’ These apps may be running afoul of the law, but it’s up to regulators at the FTC to decide if they are. Without iOS data, it’s also unclear how common this problem is across platforms.
The potential violations were abundant and came in several forms, according to the study. More than 1,000 children’s apps collected identifying information from kids using tracking software whose terms explicitly forbid their use for children’s apps, the study found.
The researchers also said that nearly half the apps fail to always use standard security measures to transmit sensitive data over the Web, suggesting a breach of reasonable data security measures mandated by COPPA. Each of the 5,855 apps under review was installed more than 750,000 times, on average, according to the study.
Unfortunately for parents, there’s little consumers can do to protect themselves since the policies and business practices of app developers and ad tracking companies are often opaque, Egelman said.
The study also points to a breakdown of so-called self-regulation by app developers who claim to abide by child privacy laws, as well as by Google, which runs the Android platform, he said.