TELECOM & INTERNET | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Hong Kong's privacy watchdog asks Facebook to report on data leak

The social media giant has reportedly had an issue involving the personal data of some 500 million users.

The Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) has reached out to the Hong Kong office of Facebook, demanding it report on the extent of a reported data leakage in the City.

The PCPD has asked the social media platform to conduct a compliance review of the incident, noting it should include details of the data leakage and the number of Hong Kong customers affected.

The review should also identify the personal data involved in the leakage.

The Privacy Commissioner cited reports by foreign news agencies on 3 April that it was suspected that personal information of Facebook users has been leaked. The PCPD has so far received two related enquiries, but no related complaints.

It was reported that the data of 530 million users had been publicly available. Facebook explained in a 6 April statement that the data had been "scraped", rather than hacked, from the platform prior to September 2019.

Facebook said it has taken action by updating its contact importer to prevent malicious actors from “using software to imitate our app and upload a large set of phone numbers to see which ones matched Facebook users.”

Meanwhile, the PCPD issued a guideline for users to protect their personal data whilst using social media and instant messaging software. This includes changing an account’s privacy setting.

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