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The Cambridge Analytica story keeps getting weirder

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Enough time has passed since this spring's Cambridge Analytica scandal that you may find yourself str
 
June 19 · Issue #156 · View online
The Interface
Enough time has passed since this spring’s Cambridge Analytica scandal that you may find yourself struggling to remember what it was about. The gist goes something like this: A company illicitly obtained data about tens of millions of America — a feat made easier by Facebook’s then-lax privacy policies — and used that data in an effort to sway the election toward Donald Trump. 
And yet every step of the way, one of the key players has stepped forward to dismiss some element of the story as a fabrication. Illicitly obtained data? In sworn testimony before the US Senate today, the University of Cambridge’s Aleksandr Kogan presented the terms of service by which users had agreed to give away their data for any purpose. Kogan said the app at the center of the controversy — the personality quiz known as thisisyourdigitallife — hadn’t even been the one through which he had obtained the data. It was an earlier one, he said, and it scraped far less data.
The data referenced by Facebook was actually collected by GSR App, named after the initials of a private company Kogan founded outside of the University of Cambridge, where he worked. Keegan said GSR App provided SCL with “approximately 30 million personality profiles” based on locations, likes and other information from app participants and some of their friends, Kogan wrote in the prepared testimony for a subcommittee of the Senate Commerce panel.
Kogan says that both versions of the app clearly laid out terms of service, which informed participants that GSR would be allowed to “disseminate, publish, transfer,” the data and would have “worldwide license” to use the data “for any purpose.”
I’ve written about the fundamental strangeness of the Cambridge Analytica story before. The more that government agencies investigate, the less becomes clear. It seems fair to say that no one really acted in the best interests of the average person until outrage forced their hand. But it’s also fair to say given the general public apathy toward privacy policies in the run-up to the scandal, it was difficult to predict that outrage before it erupted.
The one remaining question to which we can expect to receive a definitive answer is whether Facebook violated its 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission. Ashkan Solatani, former chief technology officer for the FTC, testified today that the company had done so:
Soltani, an independent privacy researcher who served as chief technologist for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) during the Obama administration, said that he believed Facebook had violated its 2011 consent decree with the FTC and that there was a “strong likelihood” the body would impose fines against the company.
“I have no doubt that Facebook has violated its consent decree,” said [Sen. Richard] Blumenthal [D-CT]. “The only question now is what should be done about it.”
Meanwhile, Cambridge Analytica fallout continued to land far beyond Facebook. The biggest US telecom carriers said today they would stop selling customers’ location data to third parties. That they did so for so long — and with hardly a peep from those outraged about Facebook — is just another curiosity of the Aleksandr Kogan story.

Democracy
Verizon will stop selling real-time location data to third-party brokers
Prominent tech CEOs are denouncing Trump’s border separation policy
Zuckerberg, Sandberg give to Facebook campaign for immigrant families
Twitter, Medium, And GitHub Have All Blocked Users From Posting ICE Employee LinkedIn Data
Russian Trolls Weigh in on Roseanne Barr and Donald Trump Jr.
Iran’s Telegram Ban Has Impacted All Corners of the Country
Beijing Wants to Rewrite the Rules of the Internet
Elsewhere
The Man Who Saw the Dangers of Cambridge Analytica Years Ago
How publishers are bridging their Instagram and Facebook audiences
Snapchat Reality Show From Bunim-Murray Stars Summer Mckeen
AT&T in Talks to Acquire AppNexus Ad Platform on Cheddar
Launches
Facebook launches gameshows platform with interactive video
Helping Small Businesses and Developers Protect Their Customers’ Privacy
Facebook is putting autoplay video ads inside Messenger
Facebook Wants to Use AI to Replace Your Eyeballs in Photos Where You Blinked - Motherboard
Introducing Anchor for iPad: a bigger, better way to make your podcast
Takes
The “Facebook Nevers”
Facebook Follows Users Into Every Nook With Ads
And finally ...
My Tamagotchi is everything that went wrong with our future
Talk to me
Questions? Comments? Birthday greetings? That’s right, it’s my birthday! casey@theverge.com
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