INAI looking into possible impact of Cambridge Analytica in Mexico

Mexico's Personal Data Protection Institute is investigating whether Cambridge Analytica stole data from Facebook Mexico to use it for electoral purposes
INAI looking into possible impact of Cambridge Analytica in Mexico
Illustration: Dado Ruvic/REUTERS
25/04/2018
14:41
Alberto Morales
Mexico City
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The National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and Personal Data Protection (INAI) is working with U.S. and British authorities to determine whether Cambridge Analytica has had any influence among Facebook users in Mexico, according to Commissioner Patricia Kurczyn Villalobos.

“Facebook Mexico has the best disposition to work with us, they are offering us their support and assistance," said the head of the Personal Data Commission of the INAI during an interview with EL UNIVERSAL.

"When we first heard of the use [of personal data] in several cases, such as Brexit in Great Britain, or for electoral purposes, like in the United States, naturally, we paid attention and the first thing we're doing is gathering information to know whether Cambridge Analytica has done something in our country,” explained Kurczyn.

She detailed they are investigating whether the personal data of the 700,000 compromised Facebook users in Mexico – according to Facebook estimates – have been illegally used for electoral purposes.

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(INAI Commissioner Patricia Kurczyn Villalobos Photo: Juan Carlos Reyes García /EL UNIVERSAL)

What has the INAI done thus far?

"With the latest information on the Cambridge Analytica case, as it is being known, we have paid close attention. The fact that they say 87 million Facebook users have been influenced for electoral purposes, mostly in the United States, drew our attention and raised a red flag, telling us to carry out an investigation in Mexico."

Is this indeed a red flag?

"Yes. We have to look into it and prevent personal data from being used illegally, more so now, considering the election."

What is your action plan?

"Confirming there were indeed Facebook users in Mexico who agreed to be part of a program shows us that we do not have the culture of protecting our personal data, so the first we're doing is gathering information to know if Cambridge Analytica has done something in our country."

How much progress have you made?

"This has led us to an investigation process, we can't say anything about that but we have information that here is an application called pig.gi, which has a very similar structure, and we're investigating it."

How many people could've been affected by this company or by Cambridge Analytica?

"We don't have that information. It's been said there are 87 million users worldwide and in Mexico 700,000, but we cannot confirm it because we don't have the certainty. What we can say is that we're coordinating with U.S. authorities, with British authorities, to know what they're doing and join forces. They have the disposition to help us know if there's been an influence among Mexican users."

With who are you working with?

"With the U.S. Federal Trade Commision and with the British Data Protection Authority. They are carrying out the investigation but they aren't disclosing their findings because they have to be cautious about it; otherwise they could be giving a heads-up."

Have you spoken with Facebook Mexico?

"Yes, Facebook Mexico has the best disposition to work with us, they are offering us their support and assistance according to the rules of the company but we aren't being rejected or shunned, I think they have the best disposition. It cannot be any other way, their shares worldwide have plummeted terribly. First, they want to regain their prestige because his problem represents a lot of money [for them].”

What recommendations do you have for social media users?

“We want to insist on social media users being careful because they make it very easy. I know that if we don't accept the terms and conditions of a certain social media, we won't have access to it but at the very least we need to be aware of the risk we're facing.”

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