11 July 2018

The announcement that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is set to fine Facebook £500,000 for data breaches relating to Cambridge Analytica - highlights the fact that ethical practices must be central to organisation priorities, particularly when handling or processing personal data - according to BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.

Bill Mitchell, Director of Policy at BCS said “According to the Information Commissioner, Facebook has ‘failed’ to provide basic protections for its users that are demanded by law. When the BCS recently surveyed over 6,500 schoolchildren, only 30% of the 12 year olds surveyed agreed that ‘most companies think about the online safety of people your age when they are making their websites or apps’. This suggests social media technology companies are not only losing the trust of regulators, but also the very people who make their business model viable.

It’s easy to lose the trust of your users, as is being demonstrated so clearly by technology companies at the moment, but far more difficult to win it back. We need to get to a position where organisations, and the IT professionals working for them, are actively considering the social and ethical implications of the products and services they are creating. The fine received by Facebook today arguably impacts the company’s brand reputation more than its financial standing, but this is important in demonstrating the need for any organisation dealing with personal data to place ethical practices at the centre of their priorities, in a real and accountable way.”

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