Investigate SCL Role in PH elections, Demand Accountability Over Data Leak

Released:

April 12, 2018

               

Investigate SCL role in PH elections, demand accountability over data leak

 

Computer Professionals’ Union

April 12, 2018

 

We, IT experts, professionals, and advocates comprising the Computer Professionals’ Union (CPU), demand that the Philippine government seriously look into allegations of interference in Philippine elections done by political analytics firm SCL group. We also demand accountability both from its American subsidiary Cambridge Analytica and social media giant Facebook over the breach into the user data of 87 million FB users, 1.2 million of which are from the Philippines.

 

Reports released by the South China Morning Post [1] and Quartz [2] both point to the British firm having a hand in the campaign messaging of candidates in the past 2013 and 2015 Philippine elections, using a technique called psychographic modeling that combines psychology with data mining. These allegations should be seriously addressed on two fronts: first, amid a troubling pattern of foreign intervention in our local polls, and secondly, in the light of privacy breaches being committed against Filipinos by firms, agencies, and digital platforms.

 

Since 2010, Philippine automated elections has been contracted out to Venezuelan tech firm Smartmatic, which despite a penchant for breaking election protocol [3] has been contracted by Comelec again and again. More recently, server DNS logs have surfaced revealing dubious transactions of vote counting machines done after the final sealing and testing period, before actual polls commenced, and with servers located abroad [4]. And now, SCL group’s American subsidiary Cambridge Analytica has scraped the private data of Filipino FB users ostensibly to sway votes in favor of paying clients– all troubling patterns of foreign influence over a sovereign exercise that may violate both the Omnibus Election Code and the Fair Elections Act of 2013.

 

This incident also underscores how our public information systems and data infrastructures are being contracted out to foreign firms with no firm obligations to transparently disclose when and what data is being accessed, and where and how it is stored, processed, transmitted, and securely deleted. Even with the passage of the Data Privacy Act in 2012, there is no firm accountability being exacted from companies and agencies alike. Incidents like the Comeleak of 2016, the massive 2016 Uber hack, and more recently the Cambridge Analytica data leak has shown the vulnerability of private user data – now being considered the oil of the 21st century – and the need to enforce firm regulation and punishments for those that violate data privacy.

 

We call that social media giant Facebook be held accountable for granting unauthorized access to the private data of 1.2 million Filipino FB users. We expect nothing less from the National Privacy Commission, who should step up in its role as government regulator on behalf of Filipinos, in a country deemed the social media capital of the world.#



REFERENCE:

Mac Yanto, CPU deputy national coordinator

0929-1948643

 

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[1] See: http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/2140303/how-cambridge-analyticas-parent-company-helped-man-action, and http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/2140702/could-cambridge-analytica-boss-alexander-nix-be-probed

 

[2] https://qz.com/1245444/cambridge-analytica-boasted-about-branding-a-filipino-politician-as-tough-on-crime-and-no-nonsense/

 

[3] See: http://news.abs-cbn.com/halalan2016/nation/05/14/16/comelec-to-smartmatic-stay-away-from-canvassing-system-at-picc, and http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/424145/raps-filed-vs-ex-poll-execs-smartmatic

 

[4] http://politics.com.ph/read-sotto-outs-smartmatics-manipulation-in-2016-polls/