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Everything You Need to Know About The Facebook Cambridge Analytica Scandal

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Cambridge Analytica

Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal is dominating the news. From Elon Musk to Keith Weed, experts in the industry have been keeping a close eye on the story’s development around the globe. So, how did the scandal come to be and where is it going from here?

A Tale of Two Lawsuits

The giant scandal engulfing Facebook and user privacy has made lesser-known Cambridge Analytica a household name. Cambridge Analytica is a British, data-driven, political consulting company. Cambridge Analytica contracted Kogan GSR to harvest data from Facebook users via an application called This Is Your Digital Life.

The application was created in 2014 and banned in 2015 from Facebook when they realized that Kogan “lied” about the utilization of their harvested data. They reportedly ordered Kogan and all parties given access to that data to delete it.

There are two lawsuits raging against SCL Group (CA’s parent company), Kogan GSR and Facebook in the UK and US. The lawsuit in the UK is by Jason McCue, who alleges that the defendants abused the human right to privacy.

The case aims to ensure that violation of privacy will not happen again in the future, specifically the extraction of names, phone numbers, mail and email addresses, religious and political affiliations and other data.

About 270,000 users installed Kogan’s application to take a personality quiz, so why is the number 70 million affected? The permissions on the application allowed Kogan to collect data from friends of the 270,000 users who took the quiz.

While these users’ willingly gave out personal information, Kogan claimed the information would have an academic application. The lawsuit asserts the information was, in fact, used for commercial and political services. The 70 million user figure only covers those affected in the US. worldwide, that number is estimated to be almost 87 million, with over 1 million in the UK alone.

The US-based lawsuit puts the pressure on Facebook. Lead Counsel for the case, Robert Ruyak places heavy blame on Facebook, stating that Facebook failed to secure the personal information of millions of its users, in addition to failing to take appropriate action even when aware of this failure.

The Current Pulse of Litigation

Cambridge Analytica

In the past few weeks, there has been an influx of memes associated with Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg is testifying in the US lawsuit though refused the UK’s request to interview for their lawsuit. The US lawsuit is still ongoing and continues to generate more questions than answers.

The affair also highlights how out of touch many in Congress are with current technologies, with videos of aging Congressmen struggling to understand some of Zuckerberg’s tech-based answers and reply in kind. In the UK, the Cambridge Analytica and Kogan investigation is also ongoing.

An Uncertain Future for Facebook Stocks

Facebook saw its first downgrade since January this Wednesday. Stocks fell 1.7%. However, the company has seen an overall increase of 3.9% in its stock since the scandal broke in mid-March.

With a lack of consumer confidence, both companies are not as enticing to veteran investors as they once were.

A Leaderless Organization

News first broke about the scandal via the New York Times on March 17, 2018. A Channel 4 news video leaked the following Monday, adding further evidence to the claims asserted. The video produced footage of CA’s CEO, Alexander Nix, seemingly engaging in illegal political techniques such as entrapment.

Nix was suspended the following day and recently stepped down from the CEO position. Alexander Taylor, CA’s chief data officer, sat down as quickly as he stood up to take the CEO position, serving only a few days. It is unclear who will lead the company during this tumultuous time. Alexander Nix refused parliament’s request to testify, showing additional distaste from the general public.

The Future of Digital Privacy

There is an aura of doubt clouding the general public’s faith that Facebook will take preventative actions to ensure a data breach of this level does not occur again. Many wonder how Silicon Valley’s brightest minds could let a mistake this large pervade its data for over a year. More importantly, Facebook did not alert authorities to the morally gray and illegal data collection.

With scandals like Equifax’s 2017 data breach still fresh, the public sees an unwillingness for companies to take responsibility. The unspoken protocol of these breaches appears to err on the side of deception rather than transparency. Equifax was aware of their breach, which exposed nearly half of the US population’s personal financial information, weeks ahead of the news breaking.

Additionally, the company sought to turn a profit by offering data-protection services after the incident. Even more frustrating, is that the only recourse for consumers affected was to freeze their credit and to unfreeze credit comes with fees.

Facebook

The lack of accountability and transparency means that these data breaches could simply be warning signs of far larger scandals to follow.

When companies are unwilling to make ethical decisions, it’s ideal that laws enter the creation process to ensure the safety of the public. A bipartisan effort is on the way in the US to give power back to the consumer. In a country where regulation is a dirty word, it’s unclear how this effort will be received.

On the tech, innovation side come solutions from a forgotten class of researchers: tech privacy experts. An unglamorous field is now finding itself at the center of fixing a growing problem.

A peer-to-peer decentralized internet (first introduced to the non-tech obsessed via the HBO show Silicon Valley), strong advertising blockers, information fiduciaries (whose purpose is to protect users’ data) and better encryption techniques are all points of notable research. May their innovation spawn a new era of data privacy.

The on-demand economy continues to grow quickly and with it comes many avenues for illicit data collection. There is a struggle to balance convenience with privacy. Tech privacy experts are working to ensure their solutions mesh well with consumers’ expectations for efficiency.

Flailing Confidence

Facebook’s rise as a tech giant may be in jeopardy. Their business model is strongly based on consumer trust. Zuckerberg’s decision not to alert authorities deny a request from parliament, his evasiveness in his testimony with Congress and his negative public image (he’s frequently touted as overly robotic and was presented unfavorably in The Social Network) has generated contempt from many consumers.

The #deletefacebook hashtag also gained organic momentum. For a company dependent on users for profit, a tall order for their public relations team is in store.

Kayla Matthews is a tech journalist and writer whose work has been featured on The Week, VICE and MakeUseOf. Read more posts by Kayla on productivitybytes.com.

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Why Amazon’s Second Headquarters Should Choose Northern Virginia

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Amazon’s second headquarters

Among the top 20 shortlist for Amazon’s second headquarters, Northern, Virginia is not a stranger to the massive tech company. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos have frequently conducted business in the region. Bezos is known to own The Washington Post and Amazon’s cloud service AWS is situated in a huge data center in the northern Virginia region. It is no surprise that Northern, VA is listed on the list. This region proved to be a safe home for Bezos’ businesses, it would only make sense that Northern, VA is the next home for HQ2.

While the nation waits for the announcements of Amazon’s second headquarters, speculations rise as Amazon employees crowd ARLnow.com. The local news-source for Arlington Virginia have reported major traffic from an internal Amazon site. The article reporting the county’s green building council had received over 6,000 page views and 3,500 visitors from an Amazon web page that is only visible to Amazon employees. Amazon’s interest in the community’s dedication to sustainability is predicted to help the company’s future development of a sustainable building of their own.

The area is surrounded by copious international airports including Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, and Richmond International Airport for Amazon’s consideration  of transportation. The bid for Amazon had reports of the Hub property as a potential site for Amazon’s second headquarters. This 85-acre undeveloped location is near the Dulles Airport, perfect for Amazon’s demands.

Amazon’s second headquarters

Amazon announced that they are developing a second headquarter of up to 8 million square feet in order to accommodate 50,000 workers. The plan to bring in 50,000 lucrative jobs to the new location will create billions of dollars in investment for the community. This opportunity for economic expansion does not come often, but neither does a perfect business location in Northern Virginia that is close to Bezos’ other businesses.

A possible site for Amazon’s second headquarters is on the border of Fairfax and Loudoun counties along Metro’s Silver Line. “We are very excited that Northern Virginia is included on the short list as a potential location for Amazon’s second headquarters,” spoke the chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Sharon Bulova. “Fairfax and Loudoun counties are able to offer a great quality of life coupled with an innovative and business friendly culture for future Amazon corporate neighbors and employees. With our highly educated and talented workforce and a location close to Dulles International Airport and a new Silver Line train station, we hope we will have the opportunity to welcome Amazon HQ2 to Virginia.”

Small businesses and agencies within Virginia are able share their professional insight to Amazon now as well. This is why Amazon HQ2 Should Choose Virginia.

If you are an agency from Virginia, and wish to contribute, please fill out this form here: https://ownersmagazine.com/need-talk-marketing-pr-agencies-amazon/

*Sponsored by Penji

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Why Amazon HQ2 Should Choose Chicago

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HQ2

Most of the cities on the top 20 shortlist for Amazon HQ2 had given some extreme proposals. The majority of the pick is located on the East Coast with an important city that is Chicago, Illinois. The city of Chicago is an important business hub that is currently attracting millennial entrepreneurs and corporate talents. The region offers a broad selection of professionals that are specialized in tech, logistics, advertising, and more. This is a huge bonus for Amazon if the tech company picks Chicago as the rightful city for HQ2.

Chicago ranks high in tech, affordability, and infrastructure. These benefits will fulfill Amazon in their search for employment, land, and logistics. The city offers the O’Hare International Airport and Chicago Midway International Airport to the company for traveling affairs. This is just one of the city’s proposal, the entire bid for Chicago was put together by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Governor Bruce Rauner. There is a promising bid that if Amazon chooses Chicago, then the massive tech company will collect at least $2 billion in incentives and $1.3 billion in tax revenue back. Employees are still expected to pay the taxes, however, it would be Amazon who is receiving that money back and not Illinois.

HQ2

Image From PBS

There are 10 total potential sites to situate HQ2. One includes the Sterling Bay’s 70-acre Lincoln Yards, and many more sites including the Illinois Medical District. The forefront for a new location is The River District, Riverside Investment and Development in River West. This 37-acre site connects to Chicago’s downtown, River North, Fulton Market, and more. The best deal for any other location. 

Amazon will be able to create a substantial amount of benefits from Chicago’s bid for Hq2. Illinois has given over $1.4 billion of tax money to companies like Amazon ever since 2001 when EDGE was created. The EDGE Tax Credit Program provides tax credits for businesses that make capital investments in Illinois and more. The massive tech company is more than qualified for this program and this will be deemed beneficial to Amazon if they participate. 

The Chicago metro area grew by 0.6% and it will only get better from here. The region is populated by a big number of young and educated students from the notable schools of University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Loyola University Chicago, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. The work force in Chicago are tech driven and strives for professional support, which is an attractive atmosphere for all companies. Amazon  should be using up that advantage as well. 

HQ2

Proposals are still being presented to Amazon by representatives. Small businesses and agencies within Chicago are now able share their professional insight to Amazon. This is why Amazon HQ2 Should Choose Chicago.

If you are an agency from Chicago, and wish to contribute, please fill out this form here: https://ownersmagazine.com/need-talk-marketing-pr-agencies-amazon/

*Sponsored by Penji

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How The Technology of 23andMe Benefits You

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23andMe

Tracing down our ancestry is a difficult but possible task thanks to 23andMe. Ancestry research is an obsessive hobby that is provoked by curiosity. You can discover historical events, trace medical conditions, find birth parents, and understand yourself through DNA testing. With 23andMe, people can now discover the truth about their genes. Through extensive DNA analysis, 23andMe can interpret your biological roots from a simple saliva sample.

More than 500,000 consumers have bought a test from 23andMe. For it to work, consumers have to spit into a tube and ship it to the company. To retrieve your results, you must first create an account on the 23andMe website and log in within six-to-eight weeks to view your data.

The massive biotech company employs scientific researchers to study customer data for research on inherited disorders. The team is filled with quality workers and a pool of professional partners in fields like pharmaceutical and biotechnology. 23andMe hopes to provide consumers who wanted to know about their DNA information on any potential genetic disorders or diseases. For the first time ever, the genetics company offers direct to consumer genetic tests on breast cancer. Anyone who is curious about their future health risk, 23andMe is the ideal service to get answers from.

In tracing back your genetic roots to compare you to a total of 150 regions, people can now discover their DNA background. 23andMe have united many disconnected families from their service. The option to publicize your results to rekindle with other family members have proved to serve a great purpose to users.

23andMe

Image From 23andme.com

The precision of 23andMe is impressive. The results are not vague responses. The scores show percentages and specific breakdowns on your ancestry. With a total of 150 regions, 23andMe ensures an informative report to fulfill your curiosity. The ancestry discovery has given people an identity and the chance to reconnect with their culture. Customers have the opportunity to share their results for research purposes, so most have consented while others chose to remain anonymous.

The health and wellness report will analyze your genetic risk for up to 10 diseases. This information is intended for people who are concern about their future health. The data comments on your potential variants to lactose intolerance, saturated fat and weight, alcohol flush reaction, genetic weight, deep sleep, muscle composition, sleep movement and more.

The more serious analysis are the findings of potential late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, AAT Deficiency (a lung and liver disease), Celiac Disease, Hereditary Hemochromatosis (iron-related) and Hereditary Thrombophilia (blood clots), and others. Users do not have to oblige and see the results, you can choose to keep the answer hidden.

Although the company have experienced issues with the FDA in the past, since last April, the FDA agreed to allow 23andMe to sell direct-to-consumer genetic predisposition tests for 10 diseases, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Celiac disease. This innovative business idea is benefiting many consumers. 23andMe’s technology have reconnected families, provide useful knowledge, and give health warnings.

23andMe

Image From 23andme.com

The innovative biotech company proves just how rapidly technology is advancing. DNA testing will only improve from this point on. 23andMe have benefited many customers with their technology. As they continue to grow and improve, a 23andMe spokesperson shares how the technology of 23andMe benefits you:

How does 23andMe work?

“You can read about the process on our website here. You choose from our two products – the  Ancestry Service and Health + Ancestry Service. You can either buy the kits from one of our retailers (Target, Walgreens, CVS, Amazon, etc.) or from our website. Your kit will take 3-5 days to arrive, you follow the kit instructions to spit in the tube provided, register your kit with the 14-digit barcode associated with your kit, and mail the tube back in the prepaid package.

In approximately 6-8 weeks, we’ll send you an email letting you know your reports are ready in your online account!”

What inspired 23andMe?

23andme

Image From 23andme.com

“Our company’s founders believe that everyone has the right to access their personal genetic information. We believe in the power of genetics to transform health and empower people, and that your genetic information is the most valuable thing you can contribute to help accelerate research”.

How will people benefit from 23andMe?

“23andMe customers will benefit in three ways:

  • Access Revolutionary Science
    • The only crowdsourced data set for genotypic and phenotypic big data analysis.
    • Health and ancestry reports driven by top-tier scientific rigor
    • Data-driven drug development by accomplished scientists
  • Discover Evolving Insights
    • Explore your unique health, ancestry, wellness and personal trait data
    • Engage with family members or connect with new ones
    • Learn more as new reports are released
  • Improve Healthcare
    • Easily participate in disease-fighting research
    • Drug development based on human genetics
    • Stay informed about the impact you’re making”

Are the analysts completely accurate?

23andme

Image From 23andme.com

“We proved through the FDA review process our ability to accurately call, or find, these variants with 99.9% accuracy when compared to Sanger sequencing results, the gold standard for accuracy.

23andMe uses an Illumina genotyping chip, widely used in academic and medical research, to capture genetic information and samples are processed in a CLIA-certified laboratory, the gold standard for laboratory testing, that also adheres to CAP (College of American Pathologists) standards. These are the same standards applied to doctor-ordered tests. We also have a variety of proprietary validation processes and quality controls that are applied to data before information is ever returned to a customer”.

How does 23andMe stand out to other competitors?

“We offer the only FDA-authorized genetic health reports directly to consumers, without a prescription. We also have a unique Research division, in which our customers can consent to participate in research (over 80% of them do consent) and answer questions that we can then use for research. Our customers have contributed to over 100 studies/published papers to date!”

How does the company overcome setbacks?

“Our CEO has said she doesn’t shy away from conflict. If you put your head down, do the work you need to do, and don’t give up, persistence will pay off. In 2013, when we received the letter from FDA warning us to stop marketing the Ancestry + Health Service, we didn’t give up. We believe people have a right to their genetic information without going through a doctor, and we are committed to providing it in the most responsible way possible. We will continue to work with the FDA to get more genetic information out to the public”.

Are you looking to improve? If so, how?

23andMe

Image From 23andme.com

“Yes, we are constantly looking to improving and working to provide additional information to our customers. Prior to November 2013 had more reports than we currently offer. As an FDA regulated company we’re working with the agency to provide health-related reports to our customers, beginning with carrier status, authorized by the FDA in February 2015, and genetic health risk reports, authorized by the FDA in April 2017. In fact, we just announced the FDA clearance of our BRCA 1/2 (Selected Variant) report, that is the first FDA authorized genetic test for cancer risk, and also expanded our Ancestry Composition product to over 150 populations around the world. We also just launched our Conditions pages, where customers can rate various treatments for common health conditions they suffer from, including asthma and depression”.

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