Naperville Business Lawyer Discusses Facebook Privacy Concerns

privacy, Naperville business law attorneyAs a business law attorney, I am acutely aware of one of the most valuable protections that an attorney has: attorney-client privilege. The United States Supreme Court has indicated that by guaranteeing confidentiality, clients are free to make “full and frank” disclosures to their attorneys, who can then provide sincere, applicable advice and effective representation.

Other entities, however, are not always quite so careful when it comes to privacy and the disclosure of information. Social media giant Facebook recently took a major hit, both to the company’s reputation as well as its stock price, due to concerns regarding how it handles customers’ privacy.

Data Breach of Millions of Users’ Personally Identifiable Information

Whistleblowers recently exposed that the personal information of more than 50 million Facebook users was sold to a political data analysis firm named Cambridge Analytica. Approximately 270,000 people had voluntarily agreed to participate in the data collection, but Facebook’s application program interface (API) allowed data to be collected from friends and connections of those volunteers—friends and connections who had not given their permission.

Facebook initially brushed off the significance of this report and claimed that Cambridge Analytica no longer had access to users’ data. Later, the social networking company issued a statement expressing their concern about the data collection. Interviews with past Facebook employees and further document analysis suggested that, in fact, Cambridge Analytica did still have access to users’ information. According to experts and those close to the situation, this would constitute a major violation of the consent decree entered into by Facebook with the Federal Trade Commission. Violations of the agreement could result in a penalty of $40,000 per violation. If further investigation proves the accusations against Facebook are true, the company could technically be penalized hundreds of millions of dollars.

Facebook has been inconsistent with their response to the accusations of privacy violations, which has provoked an uproar from policymakers, investors, and advocates of online privacy. This data disaster comes just a few months after it was discovered that Russia exploited Facebook’s platform to influence the U.S. presidential election. Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg may be required to go to Washington D.C. to testify publicly regarding the data breach allegations.

Small Business Owners Must Be Aware of Privacy Concerns Too

Concerns about personal data and privacy are not just issues for huge corporations such as Facebook and Google. In fact, small businesses can lose their customer’s trust or even been sued over breach of privacy or data-handling mistakes. As digital data files grow in both size and importance, it is likely that small businesses will continue to use personal data to grow their businesses. Small business owners are obligated morally as well as legally to handle customers’ data with care.

If you have further questions about privacy concerns for small business owners, contact an experienced Naperville business law attorney. Call 630-756-1160 to set up an initial confidential consultation at The Gierach Law Firm today.

 

Sources:

Bloomberg

Washington Post