Cambridge Analytica scandal & Mauritius

Earlier this year a major privacy scandal rocked the tech industry.

It started with the revelations1 of Christopher Wylie, a former employee of Cambridge Analytica, in which Wylie stated how Cambridge Analytica harvested data of Facebook users through their developed apps and how the data collected was used to predict & even influence the choices of American voters. Slowly, as more information was revealed, it became apparent that the privacy scandal was not limited to the U.S. On 28 March 2018 Quartz2 published an article about the global reach of Cambridge Analytica’s parent company SCL Group. Among the several countries that had political parties being customers of SCL Group, Mauritius featured in the list too. However, there weren’t a lot of comments locally about SCL or Cambridge Analytica’s involvement in the general elections of Mauritius. Strangely, I didn’t find any communiqué from the Data Protection Office either; stating whether an investigation has been initiated to find out about data misuse of Mauritian Facebook users.

On 5 April 2018, S. Moonesamy emailed3 the Data Protection Office enquiring whether the office is investigating the matter. The message appeared on the Mauritius Internet Users mailing list. I did not see any reply from the Data Protection Office.

On 13 April 2018, lexpress.mu4 published a video interviewing people and asking about the Cambridge Analytica scandal. I was interviewed and I spoke about:

  • the lack of communication emanating from the Data Protection Office
  • how to verify whether a Facebook user’s account was affected by the Cambridge Analytica scandal
  • advised users to contact the Data Protection Office if there Facebook account is affected by the scandal

One may visit Facebook’s help center5 to check whether his/her Facebook account is affected.

Cambridge Analytica harvested user information, including list of friends, through their Facebook app “This Is Your Digital Life”. If neither you nor any of your friends used that app, that it is safe to say that you’re not directly affected by this scandal. However, bear in mind that the way Cambridge Analytica collected user information, other apps had (or still have) the possibilities to obtain user info.

Are you concerned about Facebook privacy?

You may visit https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=applications to review the permissions of apps & websites that you’ve atuhorized access to.