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Eurobites: Cambridge Analytica Feels the Heat

Paul Rainford
3/20/2018
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Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Ofcom kicks off 5G spectrum auction; Salt shakes things up in Switzerland; EU WiFi scheme is go!

  • In the latest twist to the controversy involving UK political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica and its alleged misuse of the personal data of millions of Facebook users, the UK's Information Commissioner is to apply for a warrant to search the offices of the London-based company. As the BBC reports, Cambridge Analytica is accused of using data harvested by a "personality test" app on Facebook to influence the outcome of the US presidential election in 2016. At the close of trading on Monday, the controversy had already helped wipe $37 billion off the value of Facebook, as its policies on data privacy looked set to come under ever greater scrutiny from regulators. To make matters worse, Cambridge Analytica's bosses have been filmed by an undercover Channel 4 News team apparently boasting of using bribes and "honey traps" to discredit politicians. For more background on the controversy, see this story on our sister site, Security Now.

  • UK regulator Ofcom has today officially blown the starting whistle on its latest mobile spectrum auction, which will see five companies bidding for airwaves in two frequency bands. The 2.3GHz band can be used by mobile companies as soon as it is released, while the 3.4GHz band is earmarked for 5G services. The five companies bidding are Airspan Spectrum Holdings Ltd; EE ; Three UK ; Telefónica UK Ltd. (O2) and Vodafone UK . (See Eurobites: UK's 5G Auction Hurdle Cleared.)

  • Swiss operator Salt SA has been quite literally, erm, peppering Light Reading's inbox with news relating to its decision to enter the fixed-line business. Through a number of partnerships, Salt says its fixed offer will encompass the "full Swiss fiber footprint," reaching more than 30 cities. It is particularly excited about its Fiber Box, which has been "imagined, created and designed in Zurich" by noted industrial designer Alfredo Häberli. According to Salt, the box represents a break with the industry's "dull and emotionless past." Here's Alfredo with his box -- it certainly got our juices going here at Eurobites Towers.

    Alfredo Haberli with Salt's Fiber Box: Neither dull nor emotionless.
    Alfredo Häberli with Salt's Fiber Box: Neither dull nor emotionless.

  • Registration begins today for the WiFi4EU program, an EU-funded scheme that will dish out vouchers worth €15,000 ($18,412) to municipalities in Europe wanting to set up WiFi hotspots in public spaces such as libraries, museums and parks. The hope is that every European village will have free wireless Internet access in their chosen centers of local public life by 2020.

  • Vodafone has launched an international program, "What will you be?", aimed at providing career guidance for up to 10 million young people wanting to play their part in the digital economy. In parallel, Vodafone is expanding its existing graduate, apprenticeship, internship and work experience schemes worldwide. It plans to sign up as many as 100,000 young people to the schemes by 2022.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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    mendyk
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    mendyk,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    3/20/2018 | 12:28:24 PM
    Secured
    I'm not sure how the Cambridge Analytica affair merits security coverage. Facebook's business model is based on the kind data use that apparently is at the heart of the CA stuff.
    DanJones
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    DanJones,
    User Rank: Blogger
    3/20/2018 | 2:38:50 PM
    Re: Secured
    The app they used mined the data of all the friends in a person's friend list who answered the initial personality test, without their knowledge and without them talking the same test themselves. That might not be illegal per see, but man, it's ethically dubious...
    mendyk
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    mendyk,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    3/20/2018 | 2:43:02 PM
    Re: Secured
    "Ethically dubious" pretty much describes the whole Facebook model, doesn't it? I'm not a FB user (shocking, I know), but from what I remember the terms and conditions state that anything that gets posted to Facebook belongs to Facebook.
    DanJones
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    DanJones,
    User Rank: Blogger
    3/20/2018 | 3:51:47 PM
    Re: Secured
    Yeah, but does that mean that a political data analytics firm should be able to mine your data without you knowing, because one of your friends did a dumb personality test? That seems like a reach to me.
    mendyk
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    mendyk,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    3/20/2018 | 4:03:04 PM
    Re: Secured
    Now that some of this dubiousness has been brought to light, I wonder how many people will terminate their Facebook accounts. The guess is ... not many at all.
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