Malaysia ignores UN Human Rights Rights Council

April 5, 2018

Malaysia ignores UN Human Rights Rights Council, says Press Freedom Watchdog RSF

Image result for Najib Razak the kleptocrat

Is Prime Minister courting economic sanctions from the United States and EU on Human Rights ?

The controversial Anti-Fake News Act 2018 has been included as a part of global press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) latest submission on Malaysia to the UN Human Rights Council.

According to the group, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has ignored UNHRC’s past recommendations and their latest submission continues to highlight a disturbing decline in Malaysia’s press freedom over the last five years.

“Far from taking into account the recommendations made by the Human Rights Council made during Malaysia’s previous Universal Periodic Review in 2013, Prime Minister Najib Razak and his government are stepping up their harassment of independent media outlets in the run-up to the 2018 general elections,” said RSF in a statement.

Among others, the group said its submission on Malaysia for the current UPR session highlighted how existing legislation was still as draconian as ever and had driven Malaysian journalists to self-censorship.

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You just  did, Mr. Prime Minister, with the passage of the draconian Anti-Fake News Law by the Malaysian Parliament on April 2, 2018

“The latest example is a so-called anti-fake news law that the Parliament passed on Monday,” said the RSF in noting that the new law provides for sentences of up to six years in prison and/or a fine of up to RM500,000.

“The law also applies to content published abroad and to foreign media,” it further noted.

As a part of its submission to the UNHRC, RSF said it has also made 10 recommendations to the Malaysian government including calls to withdraw the newly passed Anti-Fake News Act 2018.

This was on top of urging Malaysia to repeal or amend repressive laws including the Sedition Act 1948, the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, the Official Secrets Act 1972, the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 and the National Security Council Act of 2015.

It also recommended the government stop blocking independent news websites and guarantee online freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

Aside from recommendations on laws that suppress freedom of the press, RSF said Malaysia should also move towards setting-up an independent media regulatory body to address issues surrounding government control over the media.

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Various local media groups in Malaysia have spoken out against the Anti-Fake News Act 2018 as yet another threat to press freedom in the country.

The groups also called for the government to abolish the archaic PPPA and pushed for a move towards self-regulation of the industry.


Fake News Bill will gravely impair what remains of free speech and the right to dissent in Malaysia

April 1, 2018

Former Malaysian Ambassador: Fake News Bill will  gravely impair what remains of free speech and the right to dissent in Malaysia

by Dennis

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COMMENT | Despite mounting domestic opposition, the administration of Prime Minister Najib Razak appears determined to ram through Parliament an odious bill ostensibly intended to curb fake news.

Though the government insists that the law is not intended to stop people from exercising their right to freedom of speech as provided for in the Federal Constitution, there is every reason to be seriously concerned. Under the guise of curbing fake news, the bill will gravely impair what remains of free speech and the right to dissent. The consequences will be devastating.

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Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) Chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail says “”The ( Malaysian) government’s track record in utilising laws for reasons other than its intended purpose is arguably questionable,”

An array of civil society and human rights groups, journalists, lawyers, politicians and prominent national leaders are in unanimous agreement that the pending bill represents a fatal assault on our democracy. If it is passed by Parliament, and the indications are that it will (thanks to the shameful dereliction of duty of so many of our MPs), it will mean the end of the road for democracy in Malaysia.

The draft bill defines “fake news” as “any news, information, data and reports, which is or are wholly or partly false, whether in the form of features, visuals or audio recordings or in any other form capable of suggesting words or ideas”. It is a definition so vague and wide that it enables the government to go after anyone anywhere for any report, view or opinion. Nothing and no one will be safe from its reach.

As well, the scope of the bill is so expansive that it can be applied to anything from dubious deals with China to the scandalous conduct of officials. It gives the government the power to black out anything it doesn’t like or wants to hide.

And those found guilty of maliciously creating, offering, publishing, printing, distributing, circulating or disseminating fake news can be punished with a fine of up to RM500,000 or up to six years imprisonment (reduced from the original 10 after protests). Even someone who provides financing to a publication or blog that is charged with disseminating fake news can be liable.

As well, the scope of the bill is so expansive that it can be applied to anything from dubious deals with China to the scandalous conduct of officials. It gives the government the power to black out anything it doesn’t like or wants to hide.

And those found guilty of maliciously creating, offering, publishing, printing, distributing, circulating or disseminating fake news can be punished with a fine of up to RM500,000 or up to six years imprisonment (reduced from the original 10 after protests). Even someone who provides financing to a publication or blog that is charged with disseminating fake news can be liable.

In comparison to penalties provided for under other statutes, these punishments are excessive and harsh and appear designed to terrorise citizens into submission and conformity.

It is often said that he who controls the news shapes the way people think; shape the way people think and you have power to manipulate an entire nation. And that is what this is really about and why it is so insidious.

Protecting UMNO-BN

In making the government (read UMNO) the final arbitrator of truth and falsehood, the bill will also empower UMNO to ensure that only its narrative of events prevails. There’ll be no room for criticism, dissenting views and opposing opinions. Investigative journalism and reporting on corruption and scandals in high places will cease.

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In a foretaste of what is to come, the Communications and Multimedia Ministry warned only a few days ago of “stern actions” against those “propagating and spreading fake news” in relation to the 1MDB scandal, with officials insisting that information from sources other than the Malaysian government will be considered fake news.

In other words, it might soon be impossible to discuss the 1MDB issue objectively or to disagree with the government’s take on the issue.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that this bill is not about protecting the nation’s security and stability but about protecting an increasingly unpopular political party from the people, shielding their misdeeds and failures from public scrutiny and accountability. It is not fake news that’s the target but the truth itself. It’s a new low even for Umno-BN.

And the haste with which they are pushing through this bill – in the dying days of the current Parliament – suggests that they intend to use this bill to prevent the opposition from making corruption and malfeasance an election issue. Unable to defend their disgraceful record in office, they have opted to muzzle their critics instead.

The dark shadow of tyranny grows long over our nation. The lights are going out on our democracy. This may well be the last time that any of us will be able to freely express our views.

One small sliver of hope remains to us before the lights go out completely – GE14. We must act now to safeguard what’s left of our democracy by denying this government another term in office. Make no mistake: a vote for Umno-BN is a vote for the final end of our democracy.

DENNIS IGNATIUS is a former Malaysian Ambassador. He blogs here.

Malaysia’s Ersatz Democracy: Fake News Legislation

March 28, 2018

Malaysia’s Ersatz  Democracy: Fake News Legislation–10 year Jail Term for “News Fakers”Proposed

Critics fear the move is a crackdown on dissent ahead of a general election.

By Eileen Ng

Offenders could face massive fines or up to 10 years in jail under the plans, which campaigners fear is a cover for cracking down on dissent before a general election (AP)

Malaysia’s government has proposed new legislation to outlaw fake news and punish offenders with a 10-year jail sentence – a move slammed by critics as a bid to crack down on dissent ahead of a general election.

Prime Minister Najib Razak has been dogged by a multibillion-dollar corruption scandal involving an indebted state fund, and rights activists fear the new law could be used to criminalise news reports and critical opinions on government misconduct.

A general election must be held by August, but is widely expected in the next few weeks.

Image result for Najib'--The Malaysian Kleptocrat

The anti-fake news bill, which must be approved by Parliament, calls for penalties for those who create, offer, circulate, print or publish fake news or publications containing fake news of 10 years in jail, a fine of up to 500,000 ringgit (£90,000), or both.

The bill defines fake news as “any news, information, data and reports which is, or are, wholly or partly false whether in the form of features, visuals or audio recordings or in any other form capable of suggesting words or ideas.”

It covers all mediums and extends to even foreigners outside Malaysia as long as Malaysia or its citizens are affected.

Opposition MP Ong Kian Ming tweeted: “This is an attack on the press and an attempt to instil fear among the (people)” before the general election.

Government officials have said the law is needed to protect public harmony and national security. They have accused the opposition coalition of using fake news as a key weapon to win votes and warned that any news on the indebted 1MDB state fund that had not been verified by the government is fake.

The US and several other countries are investigating allegations of cross-border embezzlement and money laundering at 1MDB, which was set up and previously led by Mr Najib to promote economic development, but which accumulated billions in debt.

The US Justice Department says at least 4.5 billion dollars (£3.18 billion) were stolen from 1MDB by associates of Mr Najib, and it is working to seize 1.7 billion dollars (£1.2 billion) taken from the fund to buy assets in the US, potentially its largest asset seizure ever.

Mr Najib, who denies any wrongdoing, has sacked critics in his government and muzzled the media since the corruption scandal erupted three years ago.

Support for Mr Najib’s ruling coalition has dwindled in the last two elections. In 2013, it lost the popular vote for the first time to the opposition. Yet analysts say Mr Najib is expected to win a third term due to infighting in the opposition, unfavourable electoral boundary changes and strong support for the government among rural ethnic Malays.

Critics say the anti-fake news bill will add to a range of repressive laws — including a sedition law, a press and publications act, an official secrets act and a security act — that have been used against critics, violated freedom of expression and undermined media freedom.

Press Association

Facebook, Google, your reign may soon be over

March 26, 2018

Facebook, Google, your reign may soon be over

For Facebook: It is now about rebuilding trust

We might look back on 2017 as the last moment of unbridled faith and optimism in the technology industry. The revelations about Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data — mining more than 50 million users’ personal information — came at a time when people were already considering appropriate ways to curb the handful of tech companies that dominate not just the American economy but also, increasingly, American life.

As the information revolution took off in the 1990s, we got caught up in the excitement of the age, along with the novelty of the products and their transformative power. We were dazzled by the wealth created by nebbishy 25-year-olds, who became instant billionaires — the ultimate revenge of the nerds. And in the midst of all this, as the United States was transitioning into a digital economy, we neglected to ask: What is the role for government?

The image of technology companies springing forth from unfettered free markets was never quite accurate. Today’s digital economy rests on three major technologies: the computer chip, the Internet and GPS. All three owe their existence in large part to the federal government. The latter two were, of course, developed from scratch, owned and run by the government until they were opened up to the private sector. Most people don’t realize that GPS — the global positioning system of satellites and control centers that is so crucial to the modern economy — is, even now, owned by the U.S. government and operated by the Air Force.

And yet, as these revolutionary technologies created new industries, destroyed others and reshaped communities and cities, we simply assumed that this was the way of the world and that nothing could be done to affect it. That would have been socialist-style interference with the free market.

But the result does not seem one that a libertarian would celebrate. We now have a tech economy dominated by just a few mammoth companies that effectively create a barrier to entry for newcomers. In Silicon Valley, new start-ups don’t even pretend that they will become independent companies. Their business plan is to be acquired by Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft or Apple. The situation looks more like an oligopoly than a free market. In fact, through the age of big tech, the number of new business start-ups has been declining.

The other noticeable consequence has been the erosion of privacy, highlighted by the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal. Because technology companies now deal with billions of consumers, any individual is a speck, a tiny data point. And since for most technology companies the individual consumer is also a product, whose information is sold to others for a profit, he or she is doubly disempowered. The tech giants would surely respond that they have democratized information, created products of extraordinary power and potential, and transformed life for the better. All of this is true. So did previous innovations such as the telephone, the automobile, antibiotics and electricity. But precisely because of these products’ power and transformational impact, it was necessary for the government to play some role in protecting individuals and restraining the huge new winners in the economy.

Change is likely to come from two directions. Regulatory action in the West will give more control to the individual. The European Union has established rules, which will go into effect on May 25, that will make it much easier for people to know how their data is being used and to limit that use. It is likely that the United States will follow suit.

The second direction is even more intriguing and comes from the East. Until recently, as Indian entrepreneur Nandan Nilekani pointed out to me, there were just a handful of digital platforms with more than 1 billion users, all run by companies in the United States or China, such as Google, Facebook and Tencent. But now India has its own billion-person digital platform: the extraordinary “Aadhaar” biometric ID system, which includes almost all of the nation’s 1.3 billion residents (and whose creation Nilekani oversaw). It is the only one of these massive platforms that is publicly owned. That means it does not need to make money off user data. It’s possible to imagine that in India, it will become normal to think of data as personal property that individuals can keep or rent or sell as they wish in a very open and democratic free market. India might well become the global innovator for individuals’ data rights.

Add innovations in blockchain technology, and we are likely to see even more challenges to the current gatekeepers of the Internet in the near future.

Whether from East or West, top down or bottom up, change is coming to transform the world of technology. Properly handled, it can produce freer markets and greater individual empowerment.

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(c) 2018, Washington Post Writers Group

Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Anifah Aman rebuts Dennis Ignatius

March 26, 2018

Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Anifah Aman rebuts Dennis Ignatius

by Anifah Aman

Note: I think Foreign Minister  Anifah Aman deserves a fair hearing, even on my blog which has of late been blocked in Malaysia by The Ministry of Multimedia and Communications.  FM Anifah is a good friend, although in recent years he has avoided contact with me,  perhaps out of deference to his boss, Najib Razak since I have been making pungent and biting comments on the competence, character and integrity of the Prime Minister. I am pleased that FM Anifah is engaging in public diplomacy. Hopefully his Cabinet colleagues can emulate him. –Din Merican

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COMMENT | I serve as a Minister in a government that listens and welcomes feedback. For this reason, I seek views from people from all walks of life – from my constituents in Kimanis, to foreigners, to businesses, and even from biased commentators. Dennis Ignatius falls in the last category.

I read his rant contained in his latest blog entitled “GE14: Last Chance for Change” dated March 21, 2018. It is in the same vein as his previous blogs. Full of wild but unsubstantiated accusations, based on anger but devoid of facts, opinions masquerading as facts.

Let me take a few examples quoting directly from his blog. “They (the government) have been extraordinarily incompetent and reckless fiscally, forcing our nation into levels of debt that were unheard of before”. I want to point out that our fiscal deficit has been reduced by more than half from 6.7 percent in 2009 to three percent in 2017.

“And while Kuala Lumpur has more millionaires than Abu Dhabi, 90 percent of rural, mostly Malay households, have zero savings”. That Kuala Lumpur has more millionaires than Abu Dhabi is not surprising. Our economy is doing extraordinarily well, and Malaysia’s population is 31 million compared to the UAE’s 1.4 million (of the total population of 9.2 million, 7.8 million are foreigners). As for the 90 percent figure, this hardly makes sense. Any worker in Malaysia would have at least either an EPF account or a pension. Furthermore, the government is also trying to improve financial education.

“The majority of young workers cannot earn enough to live decently”. I wonder where he received this information. I also question his use of terms such as “majority” and “live decently”. We all recognise that unless one is blessed with wealthy parents, all young workers face challenging situations, but for many young Malaysians, our quiet heroes, they continue with the business of life, improving themselves and our country.

I could go on, but in all honesty, I have a job to do. Spending too much time on blogs such as these, distracts the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from its important job of defending the nation’s interest. Were I to spend too much time on it, I would not do justice to the very many hardworking, creative and patriotic people at Wisma Putra, whom I have known and cherished in all the years I have had the honour to serve as “FM” – foreign minister.

Let me tell you Dennis – your untoward criticisms of the government, your constant griping and whining of the good old days (viewed through rose-tinted glasses), are not at all well received by officers at Wisma Putra. They are proud of Wisma Putra’s achievements, as I am of all of them.

They are proud of the investments flowing into the country, which are due to high-level visits, especially the prime minister’s. I want to point out that between 2011 and 2017, RM1.8 trillion worth of investments were recorded, surpassing the initial National Transformation Programme (NTP) Roadmap’s target of RM1.4 trillion.

They are proud that under Malaysia’s chairmanship, the Asean Community was established in 2015 and that ASEAN continues to play a pivotal role in the region despite very many strategic challenges.

They are proud that, unlike the past, Malaysia’s relations with our neighbours and the major powers are an at an all-time high, enabling us to derive economic benefits and to play a more active and constructive role in strategic affairs.

They are proud that despite having already served as non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, Malaysia garnered 187 out of 194 votes in the elections in 2014, guaranteeing our membership in 2015 – 2016. This is proof and validation of the high esteem that the entire international community holds for our country.

Dennis tries to present his arguments as a call to idealism. In fact, to the contrary, it is a call to naiveté. On Dr Mahathir (Mohamad’s) U-turns, he argues that there “is every indication that he will honour his commitment to ‘reformasi’, it is his last hurrah and he wants to get it right”. This is incredible in its naiveté and shallowness. There is nothing to show that this is the case; Mahathir (photo) only wants to give the indication that the wrongs of the past were not of his doings – he was merely following advice. He has given no indication that he would change. Is this the attitude of a reformed man, committed to “reformasi”?

Dennis also argues that “in any case, Anwar (Ibrahim), Mohamad Sabu (Mat Sabu) and Lim Kit Siang will be there to ensure that no one hijacks the reform agenda”. All this means is that were the opposition to win, all their time and energies will be dedicated to checking one another, guaranteeing instability and chaos for five years. This would certainly happen since there is nothing in Mahathir’s career to suggest that when in power, he will do anything except what he wants.

If Dennis was still in service and this analysis is included in his political report, that report would be thrown immediately into the garbage can; his judgement, credibility and objectivity would also be questioned.

I agree with Dennis on one thing though – the opposition faces an uphill task. But it is due to their own incompetence in managing the states under their control, the shambles and chaos in the opposition coalition, as well as the rakyat’s support for the government, knowing full well the government’s competence, good international standing and commitment to improving the welfare of all Malaysians, including naysayers and prophets of doom such as Dennis Ignatius.

ANIFAH AMAN is the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

Day of Reckoning for Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook: Rebuilding Trust

March 25, 2018

Day of Reckoning for Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook: Rebuilding Trust

Revelations about the depths of Facebook’s failure to protect our data have finally pulled back the curtain, observers say

One expert said the Cambridge Analytica revelations will finally get people to ‘pay attention not just to Facebook but the entire surveillance economy’.
One expert said the Cambridge Analytica revelations will finally get people to ‘pay attention not just to Facebook but the entire surveillance economy’. Composite: Bloomberg

“Dumb fucks.” That’s how Mark Zuckerberg described users of Facebook for trusting him with their personal data back in 2004. If the last week is anything to go by, he was right.

Since the Observer reported that the personal data of about 50 million Americans had been harvested from Facebook and improperly shared with the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, it has become increasingly apparent that the social network has been far more lax with its data sharing practices than many users realised.

As the scandal unfurled over the last seven days, Facebook’s lackluster response has highlighted a fundamental challenge for the company: how can it condemn the practice on which its business model depends?

“This is the story we have been waiting for so people will pay attention not just to Facebook but the entire surveillance economy,” said Siva Vaidhyanathan, a professor of media studies at the University of Virginia.

Since Zuckerberg’s “dumb fucks” comment, Facebook has gone to great lengths to convince members of the public that it’s all about “connecting people” and “building a global community”. This pseudo-uplifting marketing speak is much easier for employees and users to stomach than the mission of “guzzling personal data so we can micro-target you with advertising”.

In the wake of the revelations that Cambridge Analytica misappropriated data collected by Dr Aleksandr Kogan under the guise of academic research, Facebook has scrambled to blame these rogue third parties for “platform abuse”. “The entire company is outraged we were deceived,” it said in a statement on Tuesday.

However in highlighting the apparent deceit, the company has been forced to shine a light on its underlying business model and years of careless data sharing practices.

Sure, the data changed hands between the researcher and Cambridge Analytica in apparent violation of Kogan’s agreement with Facebook, but everything else was above board. The amount of data Cambridge Analytica got hold of and used to deliver targeted advertising based on personality types – including activities, interests, check-ins, location, photos, religion, politics, relationship details – was not unusual in the slightest. This was a feature, not a bug.

 Cambridge Analytica whistleblower: ‘We spent $1m harvesting millions of Facebook profiles’ – video

‘Extremely friendly to app developers’

There are thousands of other developers, including the makers of the dating app Tinder, games such as FarmVille, as well as consultants to Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign, who slurped huge quantities of data about users and their friends – all thanks to Facebook’s overly permissive “Graph API”, the interface through which third parties could interact with Facebook’s platform.

Facebook opened up in order to attract app developers to join Facebook’s ecosystem at a time when the company was playing catch-up in shifting its business from desktops to smartphones. It was a symbiotic relationship that was critical to Facebook’s growth.

“They wanted to push as much of the conversation, ad revenue and digital activity as possible and made it extremely friendly to app developers,” said Jeff Hauser, of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “Now they are complaining that the developers abused them. They wanted that. They were encouraging it. They may now regret it but they knowingly unleashed the forces that have led to this lack of trust and loss of privacy.”

The terms were updated in April 2014 to restrict the data new developers could get hold of, including people’s friends’ data, but only after four years of access to the Facebook firehose. Companies that plugged in before April 2014 had another year before access was restricted.

“There are all sorts of companies that are in possession of terabytes of information from before 2015,” said Hauser. “Facebook’s practices don’t bear up to close, informed scrutiny nearly as well as they look from the 30,000ft view, which is how people had been viewing Facebook previously.”

Cambridge Analytica claims it helped get Trump elected by using data to target voters on Facebook.
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Cambridge Analytica claims it helped get Trump elected by using data to target voters on Facebook. Photograph: Win Mcnamee/AFP/Getty Images

For too long consumers have thought about privacy on Facebook in terms of whether their ex-boyfriends or bosses could see their photos. However, as we fiddle around with our profile privacy settings, the real intrusions have been taking place elsewhere.

“In this sense, Facebook’s ‘privacy settings’ are a grand illusion. Control over post-sharing – people we share to – should really be called ‘publicity settings’,” explains Jonathan Albright, the research director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. “Likewise, control over passive sharing – the information people [including third party apps] can take from us – should be called ‘privacy settings’.”

Essentially Facebook gives us privacy “busywork” to make us think we have control, while making it very difficult to truly lock down our accounts.

‘The biggest issue I’ve ever seen’

Facebook is dealing with a PR minefield. The more it talks about its advertising practices, the more the #DeleteFacebook movement grows. Even the co-founder of WhatsApp Brian Acton, who profited from Facebook’s $19bn acquisition of his app, this week said he was deleting his account.

“This is the biggest issue I’ve ever seen any technology company face in my time,” said Roger McNamee, Zuckerberg’s former mentor.

“It’s not like tech hasn’t had a lot of scandals,” he said, mentioning the Theranos fraud case and MiniScribe packing actual bricks into boxes instead of hard drives. “But no one else has played a role in undermining democracy or the persecution of minorities before. This is a whole new ball game in the tech world and it’s really, really horrible.”

Facebook first discovered that Kogan had shared data with Cambridge Analytica when a Guardian journalist contacted the company about it at the end of 2015. It asked Cambridge Analytica to delete the data and revoked Kogan’s apps’ API access. However, Facebook relied on Cambridge Analytica’s word that they had done so.

When the Observer contacted Facebook last week with testimony from a whistleblower stating that Cambridge Analytica had not deleted the data, Facebook’s reaction was to try to get ahead of the story by publishing its own disclosure late on Friday and sending a legal warning to try to prevent publication of its bombshell discoveries.

Then followed five days of virtual silence from the company, as the chorus of calls from critics grew louder, and further details of Facebook’s business dealings emerged.

A second whistleblower, the former Facebook manager Sandy Parakilas, revealed that he found Facebook’s lack of control over the data given to outside developers “utterly horrifying”. He told the Guardian that he had warned senior executives at the company that its lax approach to data protection risked a major breach, but that he was discouraged from investigating further.

At around the same time, it emerged that the co-director of the company that harvested the Facebook data before passing it to Cambridge Analytic is a current employee at Facebook. Joseph Chancellor worked alongside Kogan at Global Science Research, which exfiltrated the data using a personality app under the guise of academic research.

Brittany Kaiser, former Cambridge Analytica Director: ‘I voted for Bernie’ – video

Demand for answers

Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic called for answers. In the US, the Democratic senator Mark Warner called for regulation, describing the online political advertising market as the “wild west”.

“Whether it’s allowing Russians to purchase political ads, or extensive micro-targeting based on ill-gotten user data, it’s clear that, left unregulated, this market will continue to be prone to deception and lacking in transparency,” he said.

The Federal Trade Commission plans to examine whether the social networking site violated a 2011 data privacy agreement with the agency over its data-sharing practices.

“I think they are in a very bad situation because they have long benefited from the tech illiteracy of the political community,” said Hauser.

The backlash spooked investors, wiping almost $50bn off the valuation of the company in two days, although the stock has since rallied slightly.

On Wednesday, Zuckerberg finally broke his silence in a Facebook post acknowledging that the policies that allowed the misuse of data were a “breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it”.

The social network is facing calls for answers from lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic.
The social network is facing calls for answers from lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic. Photograph: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images


Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, added her own comment: “We know that this was a major violation of people’s trust, and I deeply regret that we didn’t do enough to deal with it.”

The company will investigate apps that had access to “large amounts of information” before the 2014 changes and audit thousands of apps that show “suspicious activity”. The company will also inform those whose data was “misused”, including people who were directly affected by the Kogan operation.

These actions don’t go far enough, said Vaidhyanathan. “Facebook has a history of putting on that innocent little boy voice: ‘Oh I didn’t know that I shouldn’t hold the cat by its tail,’” he said. “I think we’re tired of it at this point.”

These problems were pointed out by scholars years ago, said Robyn Caplan, a researcher at Data & Society, but Facebook’s response was slow and insufficient.

“They have been trying to put out a lot of little fires but we need them to build a fire department,” she said.