Report: Some Malaysians still indifferent to personal data leaks

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been interrogated by the US Congress on Facebook’s handling of its user information. (AFP pic)

PETALING JAYA: Some Malaysians appear to be still nonchalant about the danger of their personal data being leaked on social media, according to views expressed in The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) report.

Mohd Shahrul Hussain, a 27-year-old entrepreneur, said the frequency of data breaches these days have made many adopt a more blasé attitude.

“I get weird phone calls and texts every day. It has come to a point where I don’t even bother to think where they have gotten my phone number from,” he told TMR.

He said it would greatly concern him if his personal data were breached and used for political gains.

“That would be unethical and an infringement of one’s privacy,” he said.

“At the end of the day, we need to be mindful when using social media and applications and never reveal any personal details. Anything can happen in today’s technology,” he said in the TMR report.

Personal data being leaked is almost unavoidable in the age of technology, TMR noted.

It said that in October 2017, some 46.2 million Malaysian mobile number subscribers’ personal data, such as identification card numbers, home addresses, as well as private details attached to their SIM card, were leaked.

Then in January this year, news about some 220,000 Malaysian organ donors and their next of kin’s personal data, which had been leaked online since September 2016, hit the headlines.

Currently, investigations are ongoing on the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal involving personal data being used to influence voters.

Stanley Mohan, a 30-year-old freelancer, said he has never been too concerned with what Facebook does with his personal data because he does not share anything important about himself.

“We are still using telecommunication providers, despite our personal data literally going up for sale on forums.

“I am more concerned about companies that view the data as a holistic view of all social media users,” he said.

Mohan said anybody with social awareness must know that being a user requires a degree of self-censorship, or else be ready to get their personal data compromised.

Danielle Leong, a 35-year-old marketing manager, however, told TMR she has become more aware of data leaks after learning about the Facebook-Cambridge scandal.

“In some way, I feel the security of my personal data is constantly being compromised,” Leong said, adding that she has lost confidence in Facebook.

“I know there is money to be made from these data leaks, but I really hope that Facebook is not taking advantage of this.

“I would definitely delete my Facebook account if they are unable to prevent more data leaks in the future.

Leong further said she would migrate to other social media platforms that safeguard the privacy of its members.

The Facebook-Cambridge scandal involved 87 million Facebook users whose personal data were found compromised by the political consulting group since 2014.

The data was collected via thisisyourdigitallife, an app developed by data scientist Aleksandr Kogan, which he presented to Cambridge to be used to influence the opinion of voters on behalf of politicians.

Facebook, however, said the app only collected the personal details of survey participants and not all its users.

The scandal ignited an outrage that led to discussions on the ethical standards for social media companies, political consulting organisations and politicians.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has since been interrogated by the US Congress on Facebook’s handling of its user information.