On Friday, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) found that the now-defunct British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica did, in fact, deceive Facebook users with its data-gathering practices. The verdict comes over 18 months after the scandal first emerged.
"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 Opinion also found that Cambridge Analytica engaged in deceptive practices relating to its participation in the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield framework," read the FTC's press release on the matter.
The ramifications that this decision will have are still unclear as the firm is no longer in business. However, it is definitely a step in the right direction, as preventing such incidents from happening in the future is of the essence.
The order began in July when an administrative complaint was filed against Cambridge Analytica, its then-CEO Alexander Nix, and app developer Aleksandr Kogan stating they had deceived consumers.
"The administrative complaint alleged that Kogan worked with Nix and Cambridge Analytica to enable Kogan’s GSRApp to collect Facebook data from app users and their Facebook friends. The complaint alleged that app users were falsely told the app would not collect users’ names or other identifiable information. The GSRApp, however, collected users’ Facebook User ID, which connects individuals to their Facebook profiles," read the FTC's statement.
The final order
In its final order, the FTC declared that Cambridge Analytica is now prohibited from making misrepresentations about its protection of privacy and confidentiality. In addition, the firm is required to return or delete the personal information it has already collected if it can not provide other protections authorized by law.
Finally, the order decreed the company must delete all the personal data collected through the GSRApp. The FTC specified that this decision was taken with a 5-0 vote.
Last July, Facebook paid a $5 billion fine to the FTC for its involvement with Cambridge Analytica. An unprecedented, record-breaking amount.