- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Facebook is a national security threat because society has been distracted by “Free Services” while privacy rights have diminished, according to a new study by renowned tech security experts.

“Data privacy is vital to national security because individuals are often the targets of the first layer of attack campaigns,” according to a report issued on Tuesday by the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology (ICIT) in Washington, D.C..

Titled “Facebook Poses a Massive Risk to National Security: But It’s Worse than You Think …” the study delves into “threats posed by data brokers” — with a focus on Facebook — and explores concerns about the social media industry’s continuing ability to transform data collection into profits despite a recent, massive scandal over the issue.

“Dragnet surveillance capitalists [what ICIT calls Facebook] turned dragnet surveillance propagandists remain under-controlled to the point that they knowingly operate on a spectrum from criminally negligent to negligently criminal,” wrote study author James Scott, an ICIT senior fellow.

In addition to analyzing the risk that social media data mining poses to national security, the 28-page report examines the intentionally misleading and vague terms-of-service online platforms use, in addition to privacy rights and the growing chorus in Washington to regulate the industry.

Mr. Scott also tackles the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal from earlier this year, which revealed that the British-Based political data-mining firm inappropriately accessed the information of as many as 87 million Facebook users.

The scandal bit so hard into Facebook’s share value that CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally succumbed last month to mounting pressure to appear on Capitol Hill and testify before Congress on a range of issues.

Topics covered over the contentious two days of hearings included data theft, Russian meddling in the 2016 election and the firm’s misleading terms-of-service agreement.

“The Cambridge Analytica scandal was not shocking or unprecedented,” Mr. Scott wrote. “The sensitive behavioral and PII [Personally Identifiable Information] data of over 87 million users was collected and exchanged without knowledge or consent and was leveraged in massive political influence operations. Meanwhile, the information of over 2.2 billion Facebook users was vulnerable to open source intelligence (OSINT) tools capable of scraping personal details from the platform.”

Mr. Scott, who consults with various intelligence agencies around the world, also writes that “society became distracted by ‘Free Services’ while privacy rights diminished” and explains the host of ways that Facebook collects data even when users are not on the platform.

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