This article was published on December 6, 2019

Captain Obvious FTC rules Cambride Analytica ‘engaged in deceptive practices’

Captain Obvious FTC rules Cambride Analytica ‘engaged in deceptive practices’

In today’s edition of “Well, duh!” news, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has ruled that Cambridge Analytica deceived Facebook users from whom it harvested valuable data. This comes a full year-and-a-half after the scandal originally broke and after Cambridge Analytica is no more, but hey… better late than never, right?

Last year, Cambridge Analytica ignited a firestorm when it came to light it’d used Facebook user information to help compile voter profiles. Said Facebook user information was harvested by former professor Aleksandr Kogan via a “research app” without said users’ consent. That’s the short version anyway.

This turned into a big debacle for Facebook when it came to light that the company new Cambridge Analytica had the data and didn’t make much of an effort to ensure it was secure or deleted. Again, that’s putting it as simply as possible — only because this turned to be just the biggest of a number of data leaks Facebook had in 2018.

The FTC filed a complaint against CA in July, and today unanimously decided the company’s practices qualified as deceptive. Specifically, it said: “The Federal Trade Commission issued an Opinion finding that the data analytics and consulting company Cambridge Analytica, LLC engaged in deceptive practices to harvest personal information from tens of millions of Facebook users for voter profiling and targeting.”

The decision doesn’t mean much at this point, considering Cambridge Analytica went bankrupt and folded not too long after the scandal broke. The final order that prohibits the company from participating in privacy policy decisions and “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” obviously can’t be followed anymore. The FTC added that “Cambridge Analytica, which filed for bankruptcy in 2018, did not respond to the complaint, or to a motion submitted for summary judgment of the allegations” which… yeah, I can see why they wouldn’t.

But still, any chance to further dump on the Cambridge Analytica garbage fire is one not to be passed up. The FTC also said in June that it’d restricted the business of both Kogan and CA CEO Alexander Nix, and ordered them both to destroy any information they might still have.

Facebook, meanwhile, was ordered in July to pay a $5 billion fine for both CA and its many, many other data leaks.

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