Friday, April 13, 2018

When the data protection goes "Des-pa-cito"

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, Youtube, VEVO, Spotify, Uber... and so many more are the apps we are using in a daily basis. As users we can only use the recreational and social side of them. But the truth is that they know about us so much more than we know about them. As the “Despacito” song said “Let me exceed your danger zones…” and most of the time, that’s what’s happening. 

You could say it hasn’t been the best week for some of the social networks mentioned. Privacy Policy is still a delicate matter that we should not take lightly.  

This week we’ve found that VEVO, the video platform, has suffered a cyber-attack to some of their videos. One of the clips involved has been “Despacito” Luis Fonsi’s most famous song, and one of the most viewed videos of all time. Attackers modified the title and wrote “Free Palestine” in it. They also changed the featured image for a picture of a Spanish TV show called “La Casa de Papel” in which you could see some robbers in masks. Other videos that have been affected are the ones from Katy Perry, Tylor Swift, Calvin Harris or Adele.

For Facebook, the week hasn’t been the happiest one. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, had to testify in front of the US Congress on April the 10th of 2018 in Washington DC. The first question that Senator Gary Peters asked him was straight. “Does Facebook uses the microphones in our devices to get personal information from users?” to what Zuckerberg answered: “Senator, let me get clear on this, you’re talking about this conspiracy theory that gets passed around that we listen to what’s going on on your microphone and use that for ads.” This shoots down conspiracy theory that Facebook taps your microphone.

Facing the Facebook issue, Instagram has been one of the quickest apps to remedy it. Instagram is developing a tool that will help us download the data that the app has about us. Soon, the app will let us download a copy of the pictures, videos and comments that we’ve uploaded.

Uber is another app that is not going through their best time when talking about data protection. In 2016, some hackers stole names, email addresses and phone numbers from 57 million Uber users in all around the world with data from more than 7 million drivers, including their driving licenses. Uber, then, had to pay the hackers $100.000 to remove the data. In FTC original agreement, Uber agreed to make public any other security incident plus having to pass periodic privacy audits for 20 years. Uber, nowadays, has to -aside from the audits- send privacy reports to the FTC.

They lyrics of “Despacito” tell us “I’m getting closer while thinking what the plan is going to be...” Are the apps getting too close to our personal data to elaborate a plan? It’s clear that we, as app users, should take care and measures to protect our personal data.


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