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Paul Merrell

Facebook Setting Aside Up To $5 Billion For Privacy Violations : NPR - 1 views

  • Facebook expects to pay a fine of up to $5 billion in a settlement with federal regulators. The tech giant disclosed that figure in its first-quarter 2019 financial results. Facebook has been in negotiations with the Federal Trade Commission following concerns that the company violated a 2011 consent decree. Back then, company leaders promised to give consumers "clear and prominent notice" when sharing their data with others and to get "express consent."
  • But, experts say, Facebook broke its promise. Just one example: giving user data to Cambridge Analytica, the political consulting firm that did work for the 2016 Trump campaign. Facebook estimates the fine will be in the $3 billion to $5 billion range and has set aside $3 billion for payment. "The matter remains unresolved, and there can be no assurance as to the timing or the terms of any final outcome," the company's statement says.
Paul Merrell

Zuckerberg set up fraudulent scheme to 'weaponise' data, court case alleges | Technolog... - 1 views

  • Mark Zuckerberg faces allegations that he developed a “malicious and fraudulent scheme” to exploit vast amounts of private data to earn Facebook billions and force rivals out of business. A company suing Facebook in a California court claims the social network’s chief executive “weaponised” the ability to access data from any user’s network of friends – the feature at the heart of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. A legal motion filed last week in the superior court of San Mateo draws upon extensive confidential emails and messages between Facebook senior executives including Mark Zuckerberg. He is named individually in the case and, it is claimed, had personal oversight of the scheme. Facebook rejects all claims, and has made a motion to have the case dismissed using a free speech defence.
  • It claims the first amendment protects its right to make “editorial decisions” as it sees fit. Zuckerberg and other senior executives have asserted that Facebook is a platform not a publisher, most recently in testimony to Congress.
  • Heather Whitney, a legal scholar who has written about social media companies for the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, said, in her opinion, this exposed a potential tension for Facebook. “Facebook’s claims in court that it is an editor for first amendment purposes and thus free to censor and alter the content available on its site is in tension with their, especially recent, claims before the public and US Congress to be neutral platforms.” The company that has filed the case, a former startup called Six4Three, is now trying to stop Facebook from having the case thrown out and has submitted legal arguments that draw on thousands of emails, the details of which are currently redacted. Facebook has until next Tuesday to file a motion requesting that the evidence remains sealed, otherwise the documents will be made public.
Paul Merrell

Belgian court finds Facebook guilty of breaching privacy laws - nsnbc international | n... - 0 views

  • A court in the Belgian capital Brussels, on Friday, found the social media company Facebook guilty of breaching Belgian privacy laws. Belgium’s Privacy Commission had taken Facebook to court and the judge agreed with the Commission’s view that Facebook had flouted the country’s privacy legislation. The company has been ordered to correct its practice right away of face fines. Facebook has lodged an appeal.
  • Facebook follows its users activities by means of so-called social plug-ins, cookies, and pixels. These digital technologies enable Facebook to follow users’ behavior when online. Cookies, for example, are small files that are attached to your internet browser when you go online and visit a particular site. They are used to collect information about the kind of things you like to read or look at while surfing the web. Facebook uses the data both for its own ends, but also to help advertisers send tailor made advertising. In so doing Facebook also uses certain cookies to follow people that don’t even have a Facebook profile. The court ruled that it is “unclear what information Facebook is collecting about us” and “what it uses the information for”. Moreover, Facebook has not been given permission to keep tabs on internet-users by a court of law.
  • he court has ordered Facebook to stop the practice straight away and to delete any data that it has obtained by means contrary to Belgian privacy legislation. If Facebook fails to comply it will face a penalty payment of 250,000 euro/day.
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  • Facebook, for its part, has said that it is to appeal against the verdict.
Paul Merrell

Belgium sues Facebook over illegal Privacy Violations of Users and Non-Users | nsnbc in... - 0 views

  • The Belgian government will be suing Facebook. The Commission for the Protection of Privacy states that Facebook violates Belgian and EU law by tracking systems that target both Facebook users as well as non-Facebook users. Facebook is known for cooperating with the U.S.’ National Security Agency. 
  • The Belgian privacy watchdog’s case against the internet giant Facebook will be heard at a court in Brussels on Thursday. The Commission has repeatedly requested that Facebook should comply with Belgian and EU law. Facebook failed to comply, and the Commission has no power to enforce the law; hence the decision to sue Facebook to attain a a court ruling. The President of the Commission for the Protection of Privacy, Willem Debeuckelaere, told the press that: “Facebook treats its users’ private lives without respect and that needs tackling. It’s not because we want to start a lawsuit over this, but we cannot continue to negotiate through other means. .. We want a judge to impose our recommendations. These recommendations are chiefly aimed at protecting internet users who are not Facebook members.”
  • The Belgian privacy watchdog alleges that Facebook tracks the web browsing of all visitors, including those who have specifically turned the tracking function off; This gathering of private information allegedly also includes those who do not have a Facebook account. Moreover, the Commission claims that Facebook has the capability to surveil computers without consent, even when users are logged out; and Facebook can monitor every PC of users that use websites with Facebook plugins. The capability to monitor both Facebook users and non-Facebook users allegedly functions via Cookies that store information about user’s internet activities, including preferential settings of websites and which websites internet users have visited. The Commission claims that Facebook installs these Cookies on all computers that visit websites that for example have a Facebook plugin to share internet content. That includes the computers of persons who do not make use of Facebook’s “share” or “like” button.
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  • In other words, Facebook has the capacity to monitor your browser settings as well as which websites you have visited if you have read this article or any other article on any website that contains a Facebook “share” button, whether you “like” it or not. The Commissions lawsuit against Facebook is or particular importance due to the fact that the corporation is known for its cooperation with the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA). While the lawsuit is of particular interest for Belgian and EU citizens, it also sheds light on Facebook’s monitoring of U.S. citizens.
Paul Merrell

Facebook's Deepface Software Has Gotten Them in Deep Trouble | nsnbc international - 0 views

  • In a Chicago court, several Facebook users filed a class-action lawsuit against the social media giant for allegedly violating its users’ privacy rights to acquire the largest privately held stash of biometric face-recognition data in the world. The court documents reveal claims that “Facebook began violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (IBIPA) of 2008 in 2010, in a purported attempt to make the process of tagging friends easier.”
  • This was accomplished through the “tag suggestions” feature provided by Facebook which “scans all pictures uploaded by users and identifies any Facebook friends they may want to tag.” The Facebook users maintain that this feature is a “form of data mining [that] violates user’s privacy”. One plaintiff said this is a “brazen disregard for its users’ privacy rights,” through which Facebook has “secretly amassed the world’s largest privately held database of consumer biometrics data.” Because “Facebook actively conceals” their protocol using “faceprint databases” to identify Facebook users in photos, and “doesn’t disclose its wholesale biometrics data collection practices in its privacy policies, nor does it even ask users to acknowledge them.”
  • This would be a violation of the IBIPA which states it is “unlawful to collect biometric data without written notice to the subject stating the purpose and length of the data collection, and without obtaining the subject’s written release.” Because all users are automatically part of the “faceprint’ facial recognition program, this is an illegal act in the state of Illinois, according to the complaint. Jay Edelson, attorney for the plaintiffs, asserts the opt-out ability to prevent other Facebook users from tagging them in photos is “insufficient”.
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  • Deepface is the name of the new technology researchers at Facebook created in order to identify people in pictures; mimicking the way humans recognize the differences in each other’s faces. Facebook has already implemented facial recognition software (FRS) to suggest names for tagging photos; however Deepface can “identify faces from a side view” as well as when the person is directly facing the camera in the picture. In 2013, Erin Egan, chief privacy officer for Facebook, said that this upgrade “would give users better control over their personal information, by making it easier to identify posted photos in which they appear.” Egan explained: “Our goal is to facilitate tagging so that people know when there are photos of them on our service.” Facebook has stated that they retain information from their users that is syphoned from all across the web. This data is used to increase Facebook’s profits with the information being sold for marketing purposes. This is the impressive feature of Deepface; as previous FRS can only decipher faces in images that are frontal views of people. Shockingly, Deepface displays 97.25% accuracy in identifying faces in photos. That is quite a feat considering humans have a 97.53% accuracy rate. In order to ensure accuracy, Deepface “conducts its analysis based on more than 120 million different parameters.”
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