Revealed: the worst data privacy offenders on the planet

data_security2Capital One, Snapchat, Facebook and, believe it or not, the UK Government, are among the worst organisations in the world when it comes to their privacy policies, data usage and user transparency.
So says a damning report from US privacy research and data security start-up Osano, which was inspired to compile what it calls the “Data Privacy Misleaders Board” after watching members of the US Congress fail to give Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg a decent grilling in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Together, with 24 lawyers, Osano reads through the full terms, conditions and privacy policies of the platforms they rank and use the information they gather to build a score. The score is based on how well each organisation’s policies answer questions on Osano’s data privacy survey.
The firm argues that by having real lawyers interrogate these policies, it is able to answer its own survey questions with legal expertise and authority. This makes sure that the rankings published are accurate, informative and unbiased, it claims.
Osano found that Capital One has an extensive privacy policy and terms of service, but the documents are so dense that ordinary users probably will not read them. The Osano lawyers’ deep dive found some concerning clauses regarding social media. For instance, according to the fine print, if you talk about Capital One on social media, it interprets this as your consent to its use of your social media data.
Snapchat has also been fingered and falls into the category of “tricky wording.” When you sign up, Snapchat makes it seem like you will give permission to the service before any private information can be accessed. If you read deeper into the policy, however, the wording that is used says that “Snapchat may get your consent”, leaving its actual position vague. It is unknown if Snapchat saves user photos.
The UK Government is also high on the list of miscreants, with Osano claiming that the homepage flouts GDPR because it fails to engage with users regarding their privacy rights, along with other data safety standards.
Perhaps unsurprisingly Facebook is under the cosh, too, due to what Osano brands its flippant attitude toward user data. Facebook gives the appearance of not caring about data privacy laws. The report cites the mainstay of its business – targeted advertising and tracking – in which the company connects with almost every major website and harvests data to share with third-parties.
Osano CEO and co-founder Arlo Gilbert said: “I expect that over the next year or two we are going to see a lot of class actions and a lot of individuals going after these companies and organisations.”

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