PHL sets inquiry on Facebook data misuse

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 21, 2018 Social Network applications including Facebook, Instagram, Slack, Snapchat, Twitter, Skype, Viber , Teamsnap and Messenger, are on display on a smartphone in Washington DC. Facebook said April 4, 2018 it is updating its terms on privacy and data sharing to give users a clearer picture of how the social network handles personal information.The move by Facebook follows a firestorm over the hijacking of personal information on tens of millions of users by a political consulting firm which sparked a raft of investigations worldwide. / AFP PHOTO / Eric BARADAT

By Patrizia Paola C. Marcelo, Reporter

THE National Privacy Commission (NPC) said it has begun preliminary work for the investigation of possible improper use of Facebook data in the Philippines by UK firm Cambridge Analytica.

NPC Commissioner Raymund E. Liboro said they are still waiting for more information to determine whether there was violation of Philippine data privacy law.

Data by Facebook as already reported by various media shows the Philippines with 1.2 million Facebook users ranking after top Facebook user the United States (with 70.6 million users) whose data were accessed by the UK consulting firm.

“The bulk of data shared with Cambridge Analytica is from the United States at 81.6 percent, with Australia ranked 10th after countries including the Philippines, Indonesia and India,” went an AFP report on Australia’s ongoing investigation.

Mr. Liboro said there may be a contention regarding “improper use,” as it can be argued that Facebook users are aware of their information being accessed.

“While Facebook claims remediation is underway, we continue to call on Facebook to face us Filipinos with a new level of transparency. This should begin with their terms of service that could be unclear to users,” Mr. Liboro said in a statement.

“That’s what we’re looking at. We’re looking at whether the terms of service and use are clear to you users. Because they might say, it’s social media, and you agreed to their terms,” he also said in a press briefing Friday.

He added that there should also be an investigation on Facebook’s monitoring of third-party app developers and tech providers who may have access to Filipino user data.

Facebook, Inc. earlier admitted that more than a million Filipinos may have been affected by the use of data to strategize political campaigning.

NPC said that in a meeting with Facebook officials in its Singapore office, Facebook told the NPC that 558 Filipino users installed Aleksandr Kogan’s personality quiz app, through which personal data may have been “improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.” This results in “1,175,312 more Filipinos” being probably affected via sharing of data, making the Philippines the second most affected country in terms of total number of data subjects.

“We assure the public that we will continue to look into this to ensure that no further harm is done against data subjects. Facebook will be asked to shed more light on the matter and explain further its privacy policies and practices. We will involve the public in these discussions,” Mr. Liboro said in his statement.

“Users should minimize the personal information they share online and maximize the use of existing privacy protection features and tools,” Mr. Liboro also said.