The Ethical and Legal Implications of Information Systems

Sidebar: Data Privacy, Facebook, and Cambridge Analytica

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In early 2018 Facebook acknowledged a data breach affecting 87 million users. The app "thisisyourdigitallife", created by Global Science Research, informed users that they could participate in a psychological research study. About 270,000 people decided to participate in the research, but the app failed to tell users that the data of all of their friends on Facebook would be automatically captured as well. All of this data theft took place prior to 2014, but it did not become public until four years later.

In 2015 Facebook learned about Global Science Research's collection of data on millions of friends of the users in the research. Global Science Research agreed to delete the data, but it had already been sold to Cambridge Analytica who used it in the 2016 presidential primary campaign. The ensuing firestorm resulted in Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, testifying before the U.S. Congress in 2018 on what happened and what Facebook would do in the future to protect users' data. Congress is working on legislation to protect user data in the future, a prime example of technology advancing faster than the laws needed to protect users.