Showing posts with label Facebook. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Facebook. Show all posts

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Governments must not allow private, profit-seeking parties such as Facebook put the entire global financial system at risk

Wikipedia, 22 June 2019:

A cryptocurrency (or crypto currency) is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange that uses strong cryptography to secure financial transactions, control the creation of additional units, and verify the transfer of assets. Cryptocurrencies use decentralized control as opposed to centralized digital currency and central banking systems……

As the popularity of and demand for online currencies has increased since the inception of bitcoin in 2009, so have concerns that such an unregulated person to person global economy that cryptocurrencies offer may become a threat to society. 

Concerns abound that altcoins may become tools for anonymous web criminals.
Cryptocurrency networks display a lack of regulation that has been criticized as enabling criminals who seek to evade taxes and launder money.

The Guardian, 22 June 2019:

Facebook is developing Libra from a base in Switzerland, in partnership with 27 other corporations – including Mastercard, Paypal, Uber and Vodafone – collectively known as the Libra Association.

Financial Review, 21 June 2019:

Facebook has just unveiled its latest bid for world domination: Libra, a cryptocurrency designed to function as private money anywhere on the planet. In preparing the venture, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been in negotiations with central banks, regulators, and 27 partner companies, each of which will contribute at least $US10 million. For fear of raising safety concerns, Facebook has avoided working directly with any commercial banks.

Zuckerberg seems to understand that technological innovation alone will not ensure Libra’s success. He also needs a commitment from governments to enforce the web of contractual relations underpinning the currency, and to endorse the use of their own currencies as collateral. Should Libra ever face a run, central banks would be obliged to provide liquidity.

The question is whether governments understand the risks to financial stability that such a system would entail. The idea of a private, frictionless payment system with 2.6 billion active users may sound attractive. But as every banker and monetary policymaker knows, payment systems require a level of liquidity backstopping that no private entity can provide.

Unlike states, private parties must operate within their means, and cannot unilaterally impose financial obligations on others as needed. That means they cannot rescue themselves; they must be bailed out by states, or be permitted to fail. Moreover, even when it comes to states, currency pegs offer only an illusion of safety. Plenty of countries have had to break such pegs, always while insisting that “this time is different”.

What sets Facebook apart from other issuers of “private money” is its size, global reach, and willingness to “move fast and break things.” It is easy to imagine a scenario in which rescuing Libra could require more liquidity than any one state could provide. Recall Ireland after the 2008 financial crisis. When the government announced that it would assume the private banking sector’s liabilities, the country plunged into a sovereign debt crisis. Next to a behemoth like Facebook, many nation-states could end up looking a lot like Ireland.

Facebook is barreling ahead as if Libra was just another private enterprise. But like many other financial intermediaries before it, the company is promising something that it cannot possibly deliver on its own: the protection of the currency’s value. 

Libra, we are told, will be pegged to a basket of currencies (fiat money issued by governments), and convertible on demand and at any cost. But this guarantee rests on an illusion, because neither Facebook nor any other private party involved will have access to unlimited stores of the pegged currencies…..

Read the full article here.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Dozens of Centrelink clients have had their names published on Facebook by a Commonwealth-funded work-for-the-dole provider

ABC News, 26 April 2019:

Dozens of Centrelink clients have had their names published online in what has been described as a "shocking" abuse of privacy.

A Commonwealth-funded work-for-the-dole provider uploaded lists of people who were required to attend client meetings to a public Facebook page.

"We are at a loss as to why anyone would post about workers' appointments online," union official Lara Watson said.

"We were shocked at the publication of names on a social media platform."

The incidents are the latest to emerge from the Government's flagship remote employment scheme, the Community Development Programme (CDP).

Nearly 50 people from the Northern Territory community of Galiwinku, located 500 kilometres east of Darwin, were affected.

The job service provider, the Arnhem Land Progress Association (ALPA), established the social media page apparently with the intention of uploading such lists.

"Welcome to our Facebook page where we will be posting appointments, courses and CDP information," it wrote last month.

The two sheets of names were posted to the Galiwinku CDP page on March 11 and 12.

Both images were shared to another local Facebook group titled Elcho Island Notice Board, which has more than 2,000 members.

One CDP insider denounced the online uploads, saying they were unprecedented and could have placed job seekers at risk.

"If a person has a family violence order in place to protect them, then perhaps the perpetrator would know where she was," said the source, who requested anonymity.

"It advertised that a person is accessing welfare services, and unfortunately in Australia there's discrimination against people accessing welfare services.

"People can be bullied for being unemployed."

The Galiwinku CDP page appears to have since been removed from the internet but the organisation denied any wrongdoing.

"We do not believe that this is a breach of confidentiality," an ALPA spokeswoman said.....

"All ALPA CDP participants give … media consent when they commence as a participant."......

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

FaceBook Inc's role in Brexit and why it matters

Facebook spends more than a decade expressing contrition for its actions and avowing its commitment to people’s privacy – but refuses constructive action

“It is untenable that organizations are allowed to reject my office’s legal findings as mere opinions. Facebook should not get to decide what Canadian privacy law does or does not require.[Canandian Privacy Commissioner  Daniel Therrien, 25 April 2019]

Facbook Inc. professes that it  has taken steps to ensure the intregrity of political discourse on its platform, but rather tellingly will not roll out transparency features in Australia that it has already rolled out in the US, UK, Eu, India, Israel and Ukraine.

The only measure it commits to taking during this federal election campaign is to temporarily ban people outside Australiabuying ads that Facebook determines are “political”.

So it should come as no surprise that Canada issued this three page news release…….

Office of the Privacy Commission of Canada, news release, 25 April 2019:

Facebook refuses to address serious privacy deficiencies despite public apologies for “breach of trust”

Joint investigation finds major shortcomings in the social media giant’s privacy practices, highlighting pressing need for legislative reform to adequately protect the rights of Canadians

OTTAWA, April 25, 2019 – Facebook committed serious contraventions of Canadian privacy laws and failed to take responsibility for protecting the personal information of Canadians, an investigation has found.

Despite its public acknowledgement of a “major breach of trust” in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook disputes the investigation findings of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia. The company also refuses to implement recommendations to address deficiencies.

“Facebook’s refusal to act responsibly is deeply troubling given the vast amount of sensitive personal information users have entrusted to this company,” says Privacy Commissioner of Canada Daniel Therrien. “Their privacy framework was empty, and their vague terms were so elastic that they were not meaningful for privacy protection.

“The stark contradiction between Facebook’s public promises to mend its ways on privacy and its refusal to address the serious problems we’ve identified – or even acknowledge that it broke the law – is extremely concerning.”

“Facebook has spent more than a decade expressing contrition for its actions and avowing its commitment to people’s privacy,” B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner Michael McEvoy says, “but when it comes to taking concrete actions needed to fix transgressions they demonstrate disregard.”

Commissioner McEvoy says Facebook’s actions point to the need for giving provincial and federal privacy regulators stronger sanctioning power in order to protect the public’s interests. “The ability to levy meaningful fines would be an important starting point,” he says.

The findings and Facebook’s rejection of the report’s recommendations highlight critical weaknesses within the current Canadian privacy protection framework and underscore an urgent need for stronger privacy laws, according to both Commissioners.

“It is untenable that organizations are allowed to reject my office’s legal findings as mere opinions,” says Commissioner Therrien.

In addition to the power to levy financial penalties on companies, both Commissioners say they should also be given broader authority to inspect the practices of organizations to independently confirm privacy laws are being respected. This measure would be in alignment with the powers that exist in the U.K. and several other countries.

Giving the federal Commissioner order-making powers would also ensure that his findings and remedial measures are binding on organizations that refuse to comply with the law. 

The complaint that initiated the investigation followed media reports that Facebook had allowed an organization to use an app to access users’ personal information and that some of the data was then shared with other organizations, including Cambridge Analytica, which was involved in U.S. political campaigns.

The app, at one point called “This is Your Digital Life,” encouraged users to complete a personality quiz. It collected information about users who installed the app as well as their Facebook “friends.” Some 300,000 Facebook users worldwide added the app, leading to the potential disclosure of the personal information of approximately 87 million others, including more than 600,000 Canadians.

The investigation revealed Facebook violated federal and B.C. privacy laws in a number of respects. The specific deficiencies include:

Unauthorized access

Facebook’s superficial and ineffective safeguards and consent mechanisms resulted in a third-party app’s unauthorized access to the information of millions of Facebook users. Some of that information was subsequently used for political purposes.

Lack of meaningful consent from “friends of friends”

Facebook failed to obtain meaningful consent from both the users who installed the app as well as those users’ “friends,” whose personal information Facebook also disclosed.

No proper oversight over privacy practices of apps

Facebook did not exercise proper oversight with respect to the privacy practices of apps on its platform.  It relied on contractual terms with apps to protect against unauthorized access to user information; however, its approach to monitoring compliance with those terms was wholly inadequate.

Overall lack of responsibility for personal information

A basic principle of privacy laws is that organizations are responsible for the personal information under their control. Instead, Facebook attempted to shift responsibility for protecting personal information to the apps on its platform, as well as to users themselves.

The failures identified in the investigation are particularly concerning given that a 2009 investigation of Facebook by the federal Commissioner’s office also found contraventions with respect to seeking overly broad, uninformed consent for disclosures of personal information to third-party apps, as well as inadequate monitoring to protect against unauthorized access by those apps.

If Facebook had implemented the 2009 investigation’s recommendations meaningfully, the risk of unauthorized access and use of Canadians’ personal information by third party apps could have been avoided or significantly mitigated.

Facebook’s refusal to accept the Commissioners’ recommendations means there is a high risk that the personal information of Canadians could be used in ways that they do not know or suspect, exposing them to potential harms.

Given the extent and severity of the issues identified, the Commissioners sought to implement measures to ensure the company respects its accountability and other privacy obligations in the future. However, Facebook refused to voluntarily submit to audits of its privacy policies and practices over the next five years.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada plans to take the matter to Federal Court to seek an order to force the company to correct its privacy practices.

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for B.C. reserves its right under the Personal Information Protection Act to consider future actions against Facebook.  

Related documents:

* Note: my yellow highlighting

Nor should this alleged 'mistake' made by Facebook cause surprise.......

The New York Times, 25 April 2019:

SAN FRANCISCO — The New York State attorney general’s office plans to open an investigation into Facebook’s unauthorized collection of more than 1.5 million users’ email address books, according to two people briefed on the matter.

The inquiry concerns a practice unearthed in April in which Facebook harvested the email contact lists of a portion of new users who signed up for the network after 2016, according to the two people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the inquiry had not been officially announced.

Those lists were then used to improve Facebook’s ad-targeting algorithms and other friend connections across the network.

The investigation was confirmed late Thursday afternoon by the attorney general’s office.

“Facebook has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of respect for consumers’ information while at the same time profiting from mining that data,” said Letitia James, the attorney general of New York, in a statement. “It is time Facebook is held accountable for how it handles consumers’ personal information.”…

Users were not notified that their contact lists were being harvested at the time. Facebook shuttered the contact list collection mechanism shortly after the issue was discovered by the press…..

Facebook Inc's rapacious business practices has been the death of online privacy and now threatens the democratic process.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

NSW Liberals behaving badly in March 2019 state election campaign

ABC News, 9 March 2019:

A NSW Liberal Party candidate has had her personal Facebook account suspended, after it was linked to fake accounts that trolled her opponent.

Sitting Labor MP for Port Stephens, Kate Washington, last week claimed that for the past six months fake Facebook accounts had been deriding her, but praising her Liberal rival Jaimie Abbott.

The Liberal Party last week denied any involvement, but yesterday conceded Facebook suspended Ms Abbott's account as well as the account of parliamentary staffer Tasman Brown.

Mr Brown works for Liberal MLC Catherine Cusack.

Ms Washington said Ms Abbott should be disendorsed for what she said were dirty tactics…..

The Liberal Party has denied Ms Abbott had any knowledge of the fake Facebook accounts, and it is blaming Mr Brown.

Ms Abbott told the ABC she was deeply saddened about the incident and felt many were misled.

"Elections should be a contest of ideas rather than a race for likes on social media, and I think that Tasman [Brown] forgot about this," she said.

"Tasman has admitted to me that as a volunteer on my campaign he was responsible for making multiple Facebook posts about the campaign under a number of names."

The Liberal candidate said she had called Ms Washington to apologise on behalf of her campaign and assured her that Mr Brown would have no further involvement in it.

"I intend to focus on continuing to campaign on issues that are important to this community," she said.

Opposition Leader Michael Daley said the trolling was a "new low" in Australian politics.

"This is Putin-style politics in Australia, it's not acceptable and I think that the position of the Premier's candidate in Port Stephens is untenable," he said.....

Mr Brown is employed under Liberal MLC Ms Cusack, who said she was incredibly disappointed.

"He [Mr Brown] realises that it's been a huge mistake, it's an embarrassment and all I can say is he's very full of remorse and he's stepped completely aside from anything to do with the Port Stephens campaign," she said.

Ms Cusack said Ms Abbott's personal Facebook account was suspended only because it was linked to Mr Brown.

She said Mr Brown had administration rights to Ms Abbott's personal account to help with her social media campaign ahead of this month's state election.

Ms Washington has asked the clerk of the NSW Parliament to investigate whether Mr Brown's online activities violated any breach of parliamentary resources.....


Sunday, 3 March 2019

Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook Inc failing to protect Australian voters from malicious or false flag sites

 PHOTO: This sponsored post caught the
attention of the AEC due to
it failing to disclose who paid
 for the advertisement on Facebook. 


ABC News, 26 February 2019:

It became known as Mark Zuckerberg's "apology tour" — a string of contrite appearances before politicians in Washington and Brussels last year, where the Facebook founder vowed to stop the spread of fake news and voter manipulation on his platform.

"From now on, every advertiser who wants to run political or issue ads will need to be authorised. To get authorised, advertisers will need to confirm their identity and location," told a US Senate committee in April last year.

"We're starting in the US and expanding to the rest of the world in the coming months."

But internal documents obtained by the ABC reveal a very different message coming from Facebook's Australian headquarters.

Just months after Mr Zuckerberg's testimony, the social media giant was pushing back against efforts by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) to identify the users behind potentially illegal political ads.

Almost a year later and on the eve of the federal election, Facebook is yet to bring its new authorisation rules for political ads to Australia.

The threat of political interference on social media during the campaign has become so serious that the AEC has warned Facebook and Twitter they face court-ordered injunctions if they cannot remove illegal political ads.

Facebook's attitude revealed in FOI documents

The surprisingly informal, somewhat haphazard, relationship between the AEC and Facebook is laid bare in a series of emails and other documents obtained as part of freedom of information application.

The AEC contacted Facebook after it became concerned about a mysterious group called Hands Off Our Democracy, which was paying for sponsored posts attacking left-wing groups and political parties last year.

On July 4 last year, AEC lawyer Andrew Johnson told Facebook's senior counsel Sophie Malloch in an email that the commission had received a complaint regarding Hands Off Our Democracy's Facebook page, which "does not contain an authorisation to indicate who is responsible for the page".

"Can you please advise who is responsible for the Hands Off Our Democracy Page and their contact details," Mr Johnson wrote.

"If this is not possible, we ask that this Facebook page is blocked or removed until it complies with the authorisation requirements in the Electoral Act."

Under changes introduced to the act last year, all online advertisements that deal with electoral matters must include the name and address of a person responsible for the ad.

The Hands Off Our Democracy Facebook page carried no information about who was behind the group, and a post on its own website made clear that its members had chosen to remain anonymous.

Facebook initially appeared willing to help the AEC make sure those ads carried the required authorisation, but did not provide the AEC with any information about who was behind the page.

"I passed this along to our govt case work team as an urgent escalation to see what can be done about this page, including whether it can be geoblocked until an authorisation is included," Ms Malloch wrote in her reply to Mr Johnson.

But five days later, Ms Malloch sent a follow-up email, brushing aside the AEC's concerns.

"The Hands Off Democracy page appears to contain organic user content, rather than advertising paid for through Facebook's online advertising process, and does not seem to require authorisation," she wrote.

"If you have a different view please let me know."

Mr Johnson responded by sending a screenshot of a sponsored post by Hands Off Our Democracy, which attacked The Greens and the activist group GetUp! and did not include the correct authorisation.

"The Australian Greens and GetUp! are against laws strengthening our national security. Why? BECAUSE THEY WANT THEIR FOREIGN DONATIONS," the ad reads.

Mr Johnson said the screenshot indicated the group's page "has (or did have) sponsored content".

A series of email exchanges between Mr Johnson and Ms Malloch followed, in which the pair discussed whether the page should carry authorisation information.

But before the AEC's concerns were addressed, Hands Off Our Democracy's page disappeared from Facebook.

Finally, on August 14 — more than a month after the matter was raised with Facebook — Ms Malloch conceded that the page was indeed paying for ads.

"It appears that this page was removed by the administrator before we could take any action, but yes you are correct — the "sponsored" posts were ads," she wrote….
Australians 'interested in Donald Trump' targeted with ads.

PHOTO: Some ads were targeted toward Australians 'interested in Donald Trump.' (Supplied)

PHOTO: The Hands Off Democracy page also sponsored conspiracy posts about US billionaire George Soros. (Supplied)

Newcastle Herald, 27 February 2019:

Facebook is investigating a complaint from Port Stephens Labor MP Kate Washington who has alleged fake accounts are being used to manipulate the electoral process. 

Ms Washington has written to the Clerk of the NSW Parliament calling for an investigation into the four accounts, which she suspects may be controlled by a Liberal Party supporter.

The accounts, which appear to be owned by local constituents, have been posting in sync with Liberal Party announcements in the Port Stephens electorate in recent weeks.

The Newcastle Herald sent direct messages to the accounts on Monday morning seeking to speak with account owners.

After advising a staff member of Port Stephens Liberal Duty MLC Catherine Cusack of Ms Washington's complaint at lunchtime on Tuesday three of the four accounts responded to the Herald within an hour.

None of the profile users was prepared to speak with the Herald.

One of accounts, which appeared to be operated by a woman who said she had campaigned tirelessly for residents in the Red Zone, was deleted on Tuesday afternoon. 

Another account was deleted on Wednesday night.

So-called social media trolling and claims of harassment, from both major parties, have become common place in recent state and federal election campaigns.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Facebook Inc still getting caught out spreading fake news and breaching users' privacy

The Guardian, 13 December 2018:

Journalists working as factcheckers for Facebook have pushed to end a controversial media partnership with the social network, saying the company has ignored their concerns and failed to use their expertise to combat misinformation.
Current and former Facebook factcheckers told the Guardian that the tech platform’s collaboration with outside reporters has produced minimal results and that they’ve lost trust in Facebook, which has repeatedly refused to release meaningful data about the impacts of their work. Some said Facebook’s hiring of a PR firm that used an antisemitic narrative to discredit critics – fueling the same kind of propaganda factcheckers regularly debunk – should be a deal-breaker.

“They’ve essentially used us for crisis PR,” said Brooke Binkowski, former managing editor of Snopes, a factchecking site that has partnered with Facebook for two years. “They’re not taking anything seriously. They are more interested in making themselves look good and passing the buck … They clearly don’t care.”….

“Why should we trust Facebook when it’s pushing the same rumors that its own factcheckers are calling fake news?” said a current Facebook factchecker who was not authorized to speak publicly about their news outlet’s partnership….

 “Working with Facebook makes us look bad,” added the journalist, who has advocated for an end to the partnership…..

ABC News, 15 December 2018:

Facebook said a bug had exposed private photos of up to 6.8 million users, the latest in a string of glitches that have caused regulators around the world to investigate the social media giant's privacy practices.

The bug allowed some 1,500 applications to access private photos for 12 days ending September 25, Facebook said.

"We're sorry this happened," it said in a blog targeted at developers who build apps for its platform.

Facebook said the bug was now fixed.

The problem is the latest in a string of security and privacy issues that have caused complaints from users and led to investigations by regulators and politicians.

The company said it would send an alert through Facebook to notify users whose photos may have been exposed by the latest issue.

The alert will direct them to a link where they will be able to see if they have used any apps that the bug allowed to access private photos.

Facebook shares fell 1.2 per cent early trading, compared to a 0.9 per cent decline in the Nasdaq composite index......