April 20, 2018 / 6:36 AM / 3 months ago

Indonesia demands more answers from Facebook on data misuse

JAKARTA, April 20 (Reuters) - Indonesia has given Facebook a week to provide more information on how personal data of about one million of its citizens was misused and on the steps the company is taking to prevent such breaches, the country's communications ministry said.

More than 115 million Indonesians use Facebook and authorities in the Southeast Asian country have been pressing the firm to explain how personal data was harvested by political consultancy Cambridge Analytica via a personality quiz.

A Facebook official apologised to Indonesian members of parliament this week at a public hearing, where the company said that 1,096,666 people in the country may have had their data shared, or 1.26 percent of the global total.

In a statement released on Thursday evening, the ministry said it had sent a letter to Facebook Ireland Ltd, the company's main international business unit, in response to an April 10 letter from the company's head of data protection.

The ministry had asked for more details and documents on any misuse of data, including whether data had been shared with other third parties such as CubeYou and Aggregate IQ.

Facebook has said it was suspending Canadian political consultancy AggregateIQ from its platform after reports the firm may have improperly had access to the personal data of Facebook users.

According to CNBC, Facebook was also suspending data analytics firm CubeYou to investigate how it was collecting information through quizzes.

The Indonesian communications ministry was also seeking confirmation on technical measures to limit data access in Facebook and more information on an audit the social media company was doing on sharing. The statement said Facebook would have to meet the requests within seven days of the letter that was sent on Thursday. Facebook did not immediately provide comment on Friday. Earlier this week, Facebook said in a statement that it was "committed to improving the way we protect people's information, and to providing a safe and secure experience for the more than 115 million Indonesians on Facebook". It said it was "working hard to tackle past abuse, prevent future abuse and give people more prominent privacy controls" and was "committed to providing regular updates to Indonesians, their representatives, the authorities and the media." The company is also facing investigations in other countries, such as the Philippines, the United States and Australia, in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data breach scandal. (Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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