Speaking to CNBC, ex-Cambridge Analytica data scientist, Chris Wylie has said that data privacy in the US is in danger of plummeting as private companies continue to “monetise left, right and centre”.
Speaking on Squawk Alley, the Canadian who helped to lift the lid on the data-sharing relationship between Facebook and UK-based data intelligence company, Cambridge Analytics, said:
“Just because it’s not the state doesn’t mean that there isn’t harmful impacts that could come if you have one or two large companies monitoring or tracking everything you do.”
With memoirs due to be published this week, Wylie has been vocal on the sway that large social media companies hold thanks to the way in which they leverage large data sets harvested from the customers who use their services.
In March of last year, Wylie’s name fell into the international media limelight for his contribution to the downfall of his former employer, Cambridge Analytica. The scandal eventually led to the Federal Trade Commission hitting Facebook with a $5bn fine for misuse of personal and private data.
Mark Zuckerberg’s company maintains that Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed the data of up to 87m of the social network’s user-base – account holders who took a personality test through a third-party app that harvested their personal data.
Private data of the friends of those who took the test were also lifted without user consent or knowledge. The information taken was then used to construct voter profiles to inform online political advert campaigns in the run-up to the US presidential elections in 2016.
Cambridge Analytica gave their services to Donald Trump and Texas Senator, Ted Cruz during political campaigning prior to president Trump’s election to the White House. The company has since been shut down, but Wylie has underlined how the tactics used by the firm could be used again.
“Even if the company has dissolved, the capabilities of the company haven’t. My real concern is what happens if China becomes the next Cambridge Analytica, what happens if North Korea becomes the next Cambridge Analytica?”
“We put in place rules that put consumers first. You can still make a profit. You can still make money. But you have to consider the rights and safety of people,” he added.
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