Daily Archives: April 11, 2018

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Zuckerberg won’t give a straight answer on data downloads – TechCrunch


https://techcrunch.com/2018/04/11/zuckerberg-wont-give-a-straight-answer-on-data-downloads/
TECHCRUNCH
Zuckerberg won’t give a straight answer on data downloads
Natasha Lomas

Today, during testimony in front of the House Energy & Commerce committee, CEO Mark Zuckerberg was pressed by congressman Jerry McNerney on whether Facebook lets users download all their information — and he ended up appearing to contract its own cookies policy, which — if you go and actually read it — states pretty clearly that Facebook harvests users’ browsing data.

See, for e.g.:

We use cookies if you have a Facebook account, use the Facebook Products, including our website and apps, or visit other websites and apps that use the Facebook Products (including the Like button or other Facebook Technologies). Cookies enable Facebook to offer the Facebook Products to you and to understand the information we receive about you, including information about your use of other websites and apps, whether or not you are registered or logged in.

Yet you won’t find your browsing data included in the copy of the information you can request from Facebook. Nor will you find a complete list of all the advertisers that have told Facebook they can target you with ads. Nor will you find lots of other pieces of personal information like images that Facebook knows you’re in but which were uploaded by other users, or a phone number you declined to share with it but which was uploaded anyway because one of your friends synced their contacts with its apps, thereby handing your digits over without your say so.

And that’s just to name a few of the missing pieces of information that Facebook knows and holds about you — won’t tell you about if you ask it for a copy of “your information”.

Here’s the key exchange — which is worth reading in full to see how carefully Zuckerberg worded his replies:

McNerney: “Is there currently a place that I can download all of the Facebook information about me including the websites that I have visited?”

Zuckerberg: “Yes congressman. We have a download your information tool, we’ve had it for years, you can go to it in your settings and download all of the content that you have on Facebook.”

McNerney: “Well my staff, just this morning, downloaded their information and their browsing history is not in it. So are you saying that Facebook does not have browsing history?”

Zuckerberg: “Congressman that would be correct. If we don’t have content in there then that means that you don’t have it on Facebook. Or you haven’t put it there.”

McNerney: “I’m not quite on board with this. Is there any other information that Facebook has obtained about me whether Facebook collected it or obtained it from a third party that would not be included in the download?”

Zuckerberg: “Congressman, my understanding is that all of your information is included in download your information.”

McNerney: “I’m going to follow up with this afterwards.”

If you read Zuckerberg’s answers carefully you’ll see that each time he reframes the question to only refer to information that Facebook users have themselves put on Facebook.

What he is absolutely not talking about is the much more voluminous — and almost entirely unseen — supermassive blackhole’s worth of data the company itself amasses about users (and indeed, non-users) via a variety of on and offsite tracking mechanisms, including — outside its walled garden — cookies, pixels and social plug-ins embedded on third party websites.

According to pro-privacy search engine DuckDuckGo, Facebook’s trackers are on almost a quarter of the top million websites — meaning that anyone browsing popular websites can have their activity recorded by Facebook, linked to their Facebook identity, and stored by the company in its vast but unseen individual profiling databases.

This background surveillance has got Facebook into legal hot water with multiple European data protection agencies. Albeit it hasn’t — thus far — stopped the company tracking Internet users’ habits.

The key disconnect evident in Zuckerberg’s testimony is that Facebook thinks of this type of information (metadata if you prefer) as belonging to it — rather than to the individuals whose identity is linked to it (linking also conducted by Facebook).

Hence the tool Zuckerberg flagged in front of Congress is very deliberately called “download your information” [emphasis mine].

With that wording Facebook does not promise to give users a copy of any of the information it has pervasively collected on them. (Doing so would clearly be far more expensive, for one thing.)

Although given that McNerney pressed Zuckerberg in his follow up for a specific answer on “any other information that Facebook has obtained about me” — and the CEO still equivocated, it’s hardly a good look.

Transparency and plain dealing from Facebook? Quite the opposite on this front.

Facebook has faced more pressure on its lack of transparency about the information it holds on users in Europe where existing privacy regulations can mandate that organizations must respond to so-called ‘subject access requests’ — by providing individuals who make a request with a copy of the information they hold about them; as well as (if they make a small payment) telling them whether any personal data is being processed; giving them a description of the personal data, the reasons it is being processed, and whether it will be given to any other organizations or people.

So, in other words, subject access requests are a world away from Facebook’s current ‘download your information tool’ — which just shows users only the information they have personally volunteered to give it.

Even so, Facebook has not been meeting the full disclosure obligations set out in EU privacy law — instead pursuing legal avenues to avoid fulsome compliance.

Case in point: Late last month Paul-Olivier Dehaye, the co-founder of PersonalData.IO, told a UK parliamentary committee — which has also been calling for Zuckerberg to testify (so far unsuccessfully) — how he’s spent “years” trying to obtain all his personal information from Facebook.

Because of his efforts he said Facebook built a tool that now shows some information about advertisers. But this still only provides an eight-week snapshot of advertisers on its platform which have told it they have an individual’s consent to process their information. So still a very far cry from what individuals are supposed to be able to request under EU law.

“Facebook is invoking an exception in Irish law in the data protection law — involving, ‘disproportionate effort’. So they’re saying it’s too much of an effort to give me access to this data,” Dehaye told the committee. “I find that quite intriguing because they’re making essentially a technical and a business argument for why I shouldn’t be given access to this data — and in the technical argument they’re in a way shooting themselves in the foot. Because what they’re saying is they’re so big that there’s no way they could provide me with this information. The cost would be too large.”

“They don’t price the cost itself,” he added. “They don’t say it would cost us this much [to comply with the data request]. If they were starting to put a cost on getting your data out of Facebook — you know, every tiny point of data — that would be very interesting to have to compare with smaller companies, smaller social networks. If you think about how antitrust laws work, that’s the starting point for those laws. So it’s kind of mindboggling that they don’t see their argumentation, how it’s going to hurt them at some point.”

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Netflix Pulls Out of Cannes Following Rule Change (EXCLUSIVE)


http://variety.com/2018/film/news/netflix-cannes-rule-change-ted-sarandos-interview-exclusive-1202750473/
VARIETY
Netflix Pulls Out of Cannes Following Rule Change (EXCLUSIVE)
Ramin Setoodeh

Ted Sarandos says Netflix won’t be going to Cannes this year.

In an exclusive interview with Variety, Netflix’s chief content officer says that the festival sent a clear message with a new rule that bans any films without theatrical distribution in France from playing in competition. Netflix could screen some of its upcoming movies out of competition, but Sarandos says that doesn’t make sense for the streaming service.

“We want our films to be on fair ground with every other filmmaker,” Sarandos says. “There’s a risk in us going in this way and having our films and filmmakers treated disrespectfully at the festival. They’ve set the tone. I don’t think it would be good for us to be there.”

Netflix made a big splash at the prestigious film festival last year with two movies that showed in competition: Bong Joon-ho’s “Okja” and Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories.” But after the 2017 announcement, French theaters owners and unions protested the inclusion of these films to Thierry Fremaux, the artistic director of Cannes. Netflix was amenable to having their movies play in France, but a law in the country requires movies to not appear in home platforms for 36 months after their theatrical release.

Netflix has had day-and-date theatrical releases for such titles as “Mudbound,” Angelina Jolie’s “First They Killed My Father,” “Okja” and “The Meyerowitz Stories.”

Sarandos will not personally be attending Cannes in May, but some of his executives will be there. “It is not a coincidence that Thierry also banned selfies this year,” Sarandos says, of another new rule that doesn’t allow guests to snap pictures on the red carpet. “I don’t know what other advances in media Thierry would like to address.”

Here, Sarandos spoke with Variety about the Netflix rule change.

Are you deciding not to participate in Cannes this year?
Well, it was not our decision to make. Thierry announced the change in their qualification rules [that] requires a film to have distribution in France to get in, which is completely contrary to the spirit of any film festival in the world. Film festivals are to help films get discovered so they can get distribution. Under those rules, we could not release our films day-and-date to the world like we’ve released nearly 100 films over the last couples of years. And if we did that, we’d have to hold back that film from French subscribers for three years under French law. Therefore, our films they are not qualified for the Cannes Film Festival competition.

And you aren’t taking movies to the festival out of competition?
No. I don’t think there would be any reason to go out of competition. The rule was implicitly about Netflix, and Thierry made it explicitly about Netflix when he announced the rule.

Were you surprised by the rule? Netflix had the two biggest English-language releases at last year’s Cannes.
I would say not just on the English-language side. I think they were the biggest films in the world last year with Bong Joon-ho and Noah Baumbach and the star power we were able to bring — Jake Gyllenhaal, Tilda Swinton, it goes on and on. We loved the festival. We love the experience for our filmmakers and for film lovers. It’s just that the festival has chosen to celebrate distribution rather than the art of cinema. We are 100% about the art of cinema. And by the way, every other festival in the world is too.

Did you talk to Thierry before he made the rule change?
I believe it was not just Thierry’s decision. I think it was the decision of his board, which is made up of several exhibitors. I know we didn’t have any conversation with Thierry. I read about it in the press.

In interviews, Thierry said that “the Netflix people loved the red carpet,” but your “model is now the opposite” of what Cannes does. Do you agree with that?
No, obviously not. Do we love the red carpet? I love our filmmakers being on those red carpets. Of course. It’s a very glamorous, very fun event for filmmakers. That is beside the point. That is true of every festival. Last year we were jointly celebrating the art of cinema at Cannes. The divergence is this decision to define art by the business model. In that way, yes, we have diverged.

Will you or other Netflix employees be attending Cannes?
I personally won’t be attending myself. But we will have people there who are in the business of acquiring films, because many films will be there without distribution.

So you could end up buying a movie that’s in competition?
Yes 100%. We don’t discriminate that way.

Netflix acquires movies from film festivals all the time. Ultimately, this rule seems to be about preventing a movie from entering Cannes as a Netflix release.
It was a puzzle to me. Keep in mind last year at Sundance, we produced the film that won the jury prize [“I Don’t Feel at Home In This World Anymore”], and we acquired “Mudbound” in the biggest acquisition of the festival.

Have you had conversations with your filmmakers about Cannes?
We’ve talked to a lot of our filmmakers after the rule change. When we went into making these films and acquiring these films, that rule wasn’t in place. That was a change in dynamics.

Do you think Cannes might change its mind in the future?
Yeah. I do have faith that Thierry shares my love for cinema and would be a champion of changing that when he realizes how punitive this rule is to filmmakers and film lovers.

What is your message for the international film community?
We hope that they do change the rules. We hope that they modernize. But we will continue to support all films and all filmmakers. We encourage Cannes to rejoin the world cinema community and welcome them back. Thierry had said in his comments when he announced his change that the history of the Internet and the history of Cannes are two different things. Of course they are two different things. But we are choosing to be about the future of cinema. If Cannes is choosing to be stuck in the history of cinema, that’s fine.

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