Roskomnadzor set its sights on Facebook

Roskomnadzor initiated an audit against Cambridge Analytica, which was previously at the center of the scandal due to the collection of data about Facebook users. The Office is interested in whether the company collected data on Russians.
Origin source
Roskomnadzor sent a request to Cambridge Analytica "on the fact of possible collection of personal data of Russian users of the social network Facebook." This is stated in a letter from the head of the department for the protection of the rights of personal data subjects of Roskomnadzor Yuri Contemirov, sent in response to the request of the director of the Association of Professional Users of Social Networks and Messengers Vladimir Zykov.

A spokesman for Roskomnadzor confirmed that on April 13, the department sent an appeal to Cambridge Analytica "in order to obtain information confirming or refuting information about the possible collection of personal data by Russian users of the Facebook network." "The answer to the request has not been received yet. Information on specific facts of data collection of users of Russian social networks Roskomnadzor does not have, "a representative of Roskomnadzor told RBC.

World leak

The company Cambridge Analytica became known due to scandal with the collection of data about Facebook users. In March of this year, the US edition of The New York Times, the British Observer and Channel 4, reported that the data of 50 million Facebook users, primarily residing in the US, were at the disposal of the British company Strategic Communication Laboratories, as well as its Cambridge Analytica, which is engaged in political analytics. Companies received the names and surnames of users, the cities of residence, data on their "likes", friends in the social network and other information that was published by users as "accessible to all."

Data collection was organized through the application This is your digital life, which invited users of Facebook to take a test to compile a psychological portrait. It was used by 270 thousand Facebook users, but due to the fact that the program also collected data about their friends, tens of millions of profiles were compromised. The developer of the application, a scientist at Cambridge University Alexander Kogan, as claimed in Facebook, promised to use the collected information for academic purposes, but then sold it to Cambridge Analytica. The latter used data to create a program that predicted the political preferences of voters. Cambridge Analytica, in particular, enjoyed Donald Trump during the presidential campaign in 2016.

Subsequently, Facebook admitted that in total Cambridge Analytica could have data of 87 million users. The scandal led to the fall of quotations of social networks on the exchange, and the investigation of the situation began the authorities of the United Kingdom and the United States. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg had to speak at a hearing in the US Congress explaining the leakage of data.

At the same time, Facebook indicated that the majority (81.6%) of the profiles that belonged to Cambridge Analytica belonged to US users, another 7.5% to users from the Philippines, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Canada, India, Brazil, Vietnam and Australia. Which countries accounted for the remaining 10.9%, or 9.48 million profiles, Facebook did not specify.

According to Mediascope, as of February of this year (the latest data) Facebook audience in Russia was 18.4 million users only from desktop computers, that is, without mobile users.

Questions to Facebook

In Russia, since 2007, the law "On Personal Data", which regulates their collection and processing, is in force. Partner of the company "NAFKO-Consultants" Irina Mostovaya argues that according to this law Cambridge Analytica activity can be described as the processing of personal data for the purposes of political agitation. "According to article 15 of the law, such processing of personal data is allowed only with the consent of the subject, that is, the user," says Mostovaya.

She notes that when using data for political campaigning, the company raises many questions: is it possible to consider the data collected by the company to be publicly available due to their placement in the social network, did Cambridge Analytica have permission to process personal data and stored data, in accordance with Russian legislation, on Russian servers.

Executive Director of HEADS Consulting Nikita Kulikov notes that it is possible to demand in court any punishment for data collection only if the data turned out to be personal, not depersonalized, that is, with their help it is possible to identify specific people.

"Perhaps, if Roskomnadzor sees the excess of authority from Cambridge Analytica, it will issue an order to eliminate violations. But interestingly, according to the logic of such a prescription should be addressed not so much Cambridge Analytica, as Facebook, which, in fact, officially sanctioned such collection. And even though Facebook has a user agreement in which, no doubt, such provisions are provided, the claims will still be addressed to Facebook, and not to Cambridge Analytica, "Kulikov said.

On Wednesday, April 18, the head of Roskomnadzor Alexander Zharov said in an interview with Izvestiya that the agency will check Facebook before the end of 2018 to comply with the requirements of Russian legislation regarding the localization in Russia of databases with information about Russian users and removal of all prohibited information from the social network . "If none of this or some of this is fulfilled or the Russian state is informed of the intention to conduct such actions, then obviously the question of blocking will arise," Zharov said.