- Facebook signed a non-disclosure agreement with Aleksandr Kogan, the data scientist at the heart of the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal.
- Kogan first referenced the NDA while giving evidence to UK parliamentarians on Tuesday about how an app he built gathered users’ Facebook data and handed it to Cambridge Analytica.
- This is the first time we’ve heard about the NDA.
- Facebook confirmed that it had a confidential agreement with Kogan, signed when he provided records showing he had deleted the app data.
- It suggests Kogan signed the agreement in the first half of 2016 after The Guardian reported the existence of his app.
Aleksandr Kogan, the data scientist at the heart of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with Facebook promising not to misuse people’s data.
Kogan referred to the agreement during a hearing with a committee of UK parliamentarians on Tuesday but clammed up when pressed by politicians for more details. “You’ll have to ask Facebook,” he said, after his lawyer hurriedly passed him a note, presumably warning him to proceed with caution.
Facebook confirmed the existence of a confidential agreement with Kogan to Business Insider.
According to the company, Kogan promised to delete the data he had harvested through an app for Cambridge Analytica and made commitments not to misuse that information. Those commitments came with confidentiality clauses, though Facebook provided no further detail.
Neither Kogan nor Facebook would confirm when the NDA was signed, but Kogan’s parliamentary testimony would suggest it was in the first half of 2016.
Through his company, Global Science Research, Kogan created a quiz app called “This Is Your Digital Life,” which harvested users’ Facebook data, and that of their friends. That data was passed on to the political research firm Cambridge Analytica.
The Guardian exposed the app and Kogan in 2015, and Facebook yanked the app and asked Kogan to delete any data that he held.
According to Kogan’s parliamentary testimony: “They asked us to delete the data, and then certify that we deleted the data, and we went through that process and deleted the data as best we could, and checked every way we could. That was done during the first half of 2016.”
Facebook said it didn’t know that Cambridge Analytica also had that data.
“It was not until December 2015 that we first learned Kogan had broken Facebook’s terms of service by selling to Cambridge Analytica Facebook information collected via an app he built,” Facebook’s Vice President of Product Ime Archibong said in a statement.
“We quickly shut down his app, demanded he delete all the information (which he confirmed in a signed statement he had) and ended any research work with him. In hindsight, we should have followed up to confirm he had deleted the information, as well as notified the people impacted – both of which are now happening.”
Kogan confirmed he was now going through a review process to ensure the data had been deleted. “This has been extremely painful,” he added.
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