Cambridge Analytica is a British political consulting firm which dedicates to data mining, selling and analyzing, and specializes in strategic communication for electoral processes. Last March it made news when it the fact that the company was acquiring Facebook users data through a third party, which fraudulently claimed to use that information for academic purposes, when in reality it was being used for politics was uncovered.

Subsequently, in a series of hidden-camera montage broadcasted by Channel 4 News of the United Kingdom, brand’s executives could be seen talking about blackmailing and setting candidates up. Nevertheless, the most shocking revelation was that the executives admitted they were in charge of the current American president, Donald Trump, whole digital presidential campaign.

Over 50 million Facebook users data was obtained through 270 thousand different Facebook users, who gave an I.Q. calculator app permission access to their personal information. Any time a user allowed said app access their data, the app was able to gather every one of that user’s friends, and the friends’s friends, information as well, even if those other users never gave their permission. Then, the app would hand over every piece of data they collected to Cambridge Analytica.

We talked to Marco Zúñiga, executive director at Chiletec, about Chile’s current data safety situation:

“We are trying to get a Data protection bill through Congress, which incorporates important and modern aspects of information regulations, aiming to protect our citizen’s data and also to offer warrants which will allow Chile to compete in the international Digital Economy market”.

Zuckerberg at the US Congress talking about Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg admitted mistakes were made, stock markets collapsed and Facebook’s public trust drastically diminished, all because millions of people saw how their personal information was being used, without their consent, by Cambridge Analytica to benefit Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. As Spanish journal El País wrote in one of its editorials, “Suspicions about Facebook’s capacity to influence the political world are serious, and its efforts, if it truly wants to recover user’s trust, should be focused on dissipating those accusations. The company that has developed firewalls against fake news on the internet and established mechanisms to identify trustworthy media, is also responsible of increasing control over political advertising, even if this means losing a (minimum) share of its income”.

The Spanish journal editorial team concluded that Facebook must prove that the users personal information has never been used to manipulate democracy.

“Privacy is comparable to other fundamental rights, such as honor and intimacy, and must be preserved as firmly as any other right is”, they claimed.

“Our information is a valuable asset, and, as such, any service we use (specially the free ones you can find all over the internet) are fed by our information. There’s an old saying in the web which claims “when something in the internet is free, it is because the product is actually you”, Marco remarked.

In a similar situation, what could Chile do to protect the data of its citizens?

Nowadays there are several diffusion and socialization actions the Government can or may implement, emphasising users education and prevention. The Chilean National Cyber-security policy, drafted by the end of 2016, considers some of these actions.

Finally, as Marco says: “The best option for the government to invest  on is the people”.