Apple has reportedly hired a former Facebook employee who blew the whistle on Facebook’s data-sharing policies exposed during the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Sandy Parakilas, a product manager at Facebook in 2011 and 2012, once gave evidence to the Commons about privacy abuses at Facebook and has been outspoken about the reportedly lax approach to data protection he witnessed at the social network during his time there.
When the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke in March 2018, Parakilas told the Guardian it had been “painful watching” the company grapple with the fallout because he knew “they could have prevented it”.
What did the ICO uncover when it investigated Cambridge Analytica?
The Cambridge Analytica files resulted in a multi-year investigation from the UK Information Commissioner’s Office, “the most important ever”, according to Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner.
In an interim report, published in July 2018, the ICO announced a number of enforcement actions against a whole spectrum of political actors, including:
• A £500,000 fine against Facebook for two breaches of the Data Protection act.
• Warning letters to all 11 political parties with MPs in the House of Commons, and notices compelling them to agree to audits of their data protection practices.
• An enforcement notice for Cambridge Analytica’s parent SCL Elections to compel it to deal properly with a subject access request from US Professor David Carroll, whose data it held, which has already led to a criminal prosecution for for failing to properly deal the notice.
• An enforcement notice for Canadian electoral services firm Aggregate IQ, ordering it to stop processing retained data belonging to UK citizens which was provided by Vote Leave.
• A notice of intent to take regulatory action against data broker Emma’s Diary, which sold data about new mothers to political parties that had been collected in a “concerning” fashion.
• Audits of the main credit reference companies.
• An audit of of the Cambridge University Psychometric Centre, where Alexander Kogan worked
Now, the Financial Times reports, Parakilas has been hired to work as a product manager on the privacy team at Apple. The paper says Parakilas’ job will involve working to ensure that future products minimise data collection and protect privacy.
Parakilas had spent the last year working as the chief strategy officer of the San Francisco-based Center for Humane technology, a not-for-profit organisation set up by former Silicon Valley workers to push for “safer, healthier tech”.
Parakilas told the Guardian at the time that he had warned senior executives that it risked a major breach. “My concerns were that all of the data that left Facebook servers to developers could not be monitored by Facebook, so we had no idea what developers were doing with the data,” he said.
Parakilas also gave evidence to the UK parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, which in 2018 investigated the abuses at Facebook as part of its inquiry into fake news. He told the inquiry that Facebook had given the impression that it feared it would be liable if it investigated a suspected breach and found policies or laws had been broken. Instead, he suggested, it did not investigate because it felt that if it did not know of breaches it could claim it was just a platform so not liable.
In competition against rivals such as Facebook and Google, Apple has been pushing its privacy practices as a strength, culminating this week in adverts at the Las Vegas-based Consumer Electronics Show bearing the slogan: “What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone.” Unlike Google, Apple is not exhibiting at the show.
Apple declined to comment. Parakilas did not respond to a request for comment from the Financial Times.
Source: The Guardian