Britain’s information watchdog has allegedly referred Facebook over to the lead regulator under Europe’s data regime to check how the social network targets, monitors, and shows adverts to its users. Britain’s Information Commissioner had been endowed with the responsibility of investigating the use of data analytics to influence politics after it was leaked that consultancy Cambridge Analytica had obtained the personal data of 87 million Facebook users from a researcher that had aided to influence Donald Trump’s U.S. presidential campaign in 2016.
And on Tuesday, the British watchdog has reported that as a part of its investigation it has uncovered broader issues at Facebook, which has since been referred to Ireland’s data regulator, the lead supervisor for the social network in the European Union.
We have referred our ongoing concerns about Facebook’s targeting functions and techniques that are used to monitor individuals’ browsing habits, interactions and behavior across the internet and different devices to the to the Irish Data Protection Commission. – British watchdog
A spokeswoman for the British watchdog has said that it had been made aware of fake political adverts on Facebook. Following the latest developments, the Commissioner has also launched audits into the role of credit reference agencies such as Experian and sent assessment notices to data brokers that include Acxiom as an attempt to understand the market for buying and selling personal data.
Credit data company Experian said that it was aware of the ICO’s concerns and the use of data in political concerns, and have said in a statement that, “As a highly regulated business, we work closely with regulators and strictly comply with data protection laws in all of the countries that we operate in, and we remain vigilant when it comes to data security and integrity.”
Citizens can only make truly informed choices about who to vote for if they are sure that those decisions have not been unduly influenced. We have uncovered a disturbing disregard for voters’ personal privacy. Social media platforms, political parties, data brokers and credit reference agencies have started to question their own processes – sending ripples through the big data ecosystem. – Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner, in a report for the British parliament published this Tuesday.
Facebook and the Irish data protection body have yet to respond to a request for comment.