City cyber experts have called the Cambridge Analytica scandal as a clear case of ‘breach of trust’ and ‘unethical’ practice. It has been alleged that Cambridge Analytica improperly obtained information of 50 million Facebook users and used the information in formulating political advertising on behalf of the Trump campaign. The cyber experts highlighted that the rise in the number of Facebook users over a decade has also given rise to several third-party applications trying to access the big data.
However, the recent scandal has highlighted the loopholes and the need for setting data privacy standards in the digital world. Cyber expert Panjkajj Ghode, Chairman of Global Blockchain Foundation, said that Cambridge Analytica was successful in accessing information of Facebook users but using the information for political campaigning without the user being aware of it is a breach of trust. “As a large number of third-party applications are trying to access user information it is high time that Facebook comes up with a strong scheme to protect user data,” added Ghode.
Another cyber expert Anil Raj of Cybervault Securities Solutions Private Limited said that Facebook is a trusted site but several third-party applications are using Facebook as a bait to trap users and fetch their personal information for various gains.
“Third-party applications trap users by giving them several benefits which they can avail only once they have logged in the application through Facebook user ID. The key here is that Facebook should not allow the third party application to access users personal data which can be done using various technologies,” added Raj.
Speaking of data mining and analytics Raj said that once the user data is mined it is used for user profiling. “Once the profiling is done, the analytics company can use various tools to influence users. Many applications work only through your mobile phones as these applications want your mobile numbers and other mobile details. People should be aware of all these traps so that their data is safe. Using personal information without taking a person into confidence is certainly unethical,” added Raj.
Another cyber expert Herald Dcosta said that free software and applications are free only because they need personal data of people. “It is part of surveillance capitalism. One should be alert while posting personal information in cyber space and there is also need for changes in Information Technology Act which should change over the period of time,” added Dcosta.
Speaking on precautionary measures, Ghode said that applications like Facebook should sign a confidentiality agreement with users that their data will not be shared without their concern.
“Analytics can be used to track users on all social networking sites and so it is time that users should start protecting their data. For instance, analytics can track sentiments of people against a politician and many other things.” added Ghode.
Cyber experts said that users should delete browser cookies on a regular basis, read all disclaimers before using a third party application, should avoid sharing personal data on the digital medium, should delete their digital footprint on a regular basis. Similarly, the user can use encryption technologies to encrypt their data to limit the access of their data.