Facebook, audio recordings case and loopholes to the detriment of users’ privacy

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In our modern world, technology is ubiquitous in everyday life and generates many deviances to the detriment of users and society. All the daily services needed and used by people all over the world pass through systems or IT solutions and present a major risk to data security. The confidentiality of the user data is then subject to a simple principle of trust towards the protagonists offering these different third-party services. Companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and others use daily user data in mass for their interests. The use of these services implies then the acceptance of a confidentiality charter for both parties as well as the respect of the rules related to the GDPR. But, each year, a lot of new cases appears where the giant companies had breaches in their system or were intentionally breaking their privacy rules. Personal data can be defined as any information relating to an identified or identifiable individual. In most countries, personal data benefits from a specific protection. This is namely the case in the United-States and in the European Union.

Common nefarious practices

In recent years, accusations against the major technological and economic powers are increasing. Indeed, in April, a case revealed that Amazon was using humans as part of the quality assurance for Alexa, the company’s personal assistant while revealing that these same contractors across multiple countries recognized hearing upsetting or possibly criminal recording while reporting it to the different organizations.

More recently, in July, the Belgian public news channel VRT revealed that Google carried out the same actions after a contractor leaked more than 1,000 audio clips to the channel. Almost 15% of the recordings had been made accidentally, and some contained sensitive personal information. Google paused the practice after the voice clips were leaked.

And then just a week later, the Guardian revealed that Apple carried out the same practice in order to improve Siri by having humans’ contractors listen to recordings. Siri responses were analysed in secure facilities and all reviewers are under the obligation to adhere to Apple’s strict confidentiality requirements. Even with this requirement, users have no guarantee that their datas and voices call are safe. How to trust a company with their services when the exact same company goes against your privacy and your confidentiality? How to be sure none is listening when you are in a phone call or voice call?

The lack of privacy and integrity from these companies is a major threat for users general freedom.

Facebook, at the same time, isn’t innocent in this world and has brought many drawbacks and problems with its policies around privacy.

The recent Facebook case

On this day, the most known scandal concerning Facebook is the collection and use of the users’ personal data by a third-party company: Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica is a British consulting firm combining data mining, data brokerage and data analysis with strategic communication for commercial or electoral processes. Since 2014, it has namely provided psychological tests on Facebook with the application thisisyourdigitallife. It must be underlined that personal data of the user taking the test as well as his or her friends were harvested by the firm.

A source revealed that Cambridge Analytica used the personal data gathered to build a system which could profile individuals and better target their preferences (to serve commercial or political interests). However, the takers of the test, the users and their friends were not necessarily informed of this profiling. The psychological tests were presented as such and nothing was said concerning profiling. This led to a collecting of personal data of 87 million people from across the globe. 87 million people who weren’t aware their datas were stolen and used to serve Facebook interests.

Cambridge Analytica did not provide information about the commercial or political profiling. It did not indicate that this could lead to different marketing techniques. The lack of information is a violation of the data subjects’ right to information. Without adequate information, how can data subjects consent to the processing? How can they exercise their rights?

Crime Scene – Do Not Cross

More recently in early August and according to the report brought by Bloomberg, the audio record came from the Messenger app. The audio conversations were matched against transcriptions to see if they were properly interpreted by the company’s artificial intelligence. There are several ways that Facebook collects voice and audio data. But the social media giant’s makes no clear mention or explanation what it uses audio data for. Bloomberg also noted that contractors felt their work was “unethical” because Facebook hasn’t disclosed to users that third parties may review their audio.

In a nutshell, Facebook is clearly abusing the users right by stealing their personal data and ignoring their rights to privacy and confidentiality. In that way, how can we be sure that Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg haven’t already sold our identities or personal data to third party companies while we are using their services?

Zbux is the solution, an open system with a simple vision : Bring a daily currency to satisfy the community and their need while protecting their data and their right to privacy.

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