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Policy / Big Tech

Gov’t urges tech companies to improve & simplify data policies

The UK Government has urged technology companies to simplify their data management policies for consumers, amid the data thunderstorm Facebook has been hit with.

In the wake of Facebook’s whirlwind weekend of controversies over personal data use, the UK Government has stepped up to ensure other social media giants such as Twitter and Google rework their data management policies for consumers.

The Government’s aim is to ensure that users are better protected, as well as educating tech firms around better data management and what data is being shared with others. UK Digital, Culture and Media secretary Matt Hancock told Sunday Times that major digital companies were failing to provide clear and concise terms and conditions to users for how personal data is used. Hancock said his goal is to get the information onto a single page.

“People are bewildered by pages of unwieldy terms and conditions. I want these boiled right down so people can see in one glance what they’re signing up to,” Hancock said. “I want the big platforms to answer questions and demonstrate they are willing to change.”

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Hancock’s meeting will coincide with the UK Parliament’s plan of implementing a data protection law, which will allow the government to impose heavy fines on tech companies that mishandle their customers’ data.

Gov't urges tech companies to improve & simplify data policies
The Gov’t hopes to improve data policies to better protect users.

The recent incident with Cambridge Analytica (CA) has prompted the data policy rework on social media companies, after 50 million Facebook users had their data shared to third party organisations as part of CA’s work for President Donald Trumps’ campaign.

The UK Government is not the only body urging more to be done following the data oversight from Facebook, as Apple and IBM chiefs make a stand as well. Executives from both organisations have called for more to be done regarding how data is used, suggesting a newly crafted regulation is needed to ensure the safety of users’ data.

“I’m personally not a big fan of regulation because sometimes regulation can have unexpected consequences to it, however I think this certain situation is so dire, and has become so large, that probably some well-crafted regulation is necessary,” Tim Cook, Apple CEO, said at a China Development Forum in Beijing.

Facebook’s data breach has sparked much debate over how data is handled and the responsibility large social media and technology firms have over properly using data, including informing owners.  The implementation of GDPR aims to improve this, by having an ‘opt in and out policy’ for individuals enabling them to decide what is done with their data.

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The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the UK privacy watchdog, conducted a seven-hour search of Cambridge Analytica’s London offices as part of a larger investigation into the alleged use of personal data and analytics by political campaigns, social media companies and other businesses.

In a statement, the ICO said: “We will now need to assess and consider the evidence before deciding the next steps and coming to any conclusions.”
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CBR Staff Writer

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