Facebook will face a change in privacy regulations around the world, which will force it to dramatically change the way it handles users’ personal information. According to a leaked internal document from the company, the primary problem is that Facebook has no idea where the user data is going and what it is actually doing with it.
The report was written for management last year by data protection engineers in Facebook’s advertising and company products division. They warn that it will be difficult for Facebook to fulfill any obligations regarding user data.
We have built systems with open borders. The operation of these open systems can be well described by analogy. Imagine you are holding a bottle of ink in your hand. This ink bottle is a mixture of all kinds of user data. You pour this ink into the water of a lake and it flows all over the place. How do you refill the ink in the bottle? How do we reorganize so that it only flows to the permitted places on the lake?
We do not have a sufficient level of insight into how our systems use data, so we cannot confidently make policy changes or make external commitments that we will not use X data for purposes of y. However, this is exactly what the regulators expect of us, which increases our chances of making a mistake.
In other words, the document notes that even Facebook engineers admit that they struggle to explain and keep track of where they’re going. User dataIf they are already on your Facebook system.
A former Facebook employee, who commented on the newspaper, described it, without revealing his identity, as real.
Facebook has a general idea of how many pieces of data are stored in each of its data centers. However, you don’t know exactly where each piece of data goes
He said. This is a bitter admission, he added, but it also provides legal coverage for Facebook because they can set the cost of fixing the mess. as you put it,
It gives them an excuse to keep a lot of private data, simply because of their size, business model, and infrastructure design, and they can credibly claim that they don’t know what they have.
(Cover image: Facebook’s data center in Luleå, Sweden. Photo: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg/Getty Images)
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