Matt Hancock forced to update app after data mining complaints

Culture secretary Matt Hancock
Photo: PA

Culture secretary Matt Hancock Photo: PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The culture secretary Matt Hancock has been forced to change his own app amid claims of data harvesting.

The West Suffolk MP launched the app last month in a bid to engage better with constituents.

But he has now revealed there were complaints about data being mined and requests to access personal photos.

Speaking to Good Morning Britain he said: “We updated the privacy settings on that app after getting the feedback that came with the launch. We significantly strengthened the privacy settings because of this sort of feedback.

Speaking about users private pictures he added: “It didn’t gain the access but it did ask for the access, because we actually asked for more consent than was actually needed. That absolutely has been fixed. It demonstrates just how important it is to get this right.

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“Mine is for engaging with my constituents it is not actually about making money, as Facebook is.”

Data firm Cambridge Analytica, along with Facebook, is under scrutiny following claims by whistleblower Christopher Wylie that the firm harvested large amounts of data without consent.

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Appearing on Radio 4 Mr Hancock said: “I saw that Mark Zuckerberg has apologised and said that they are going to make some changes, but frankly I don’t think those changes go far enough.

“It shouldn’t be for a company to decide what is the appropriate balance between privacy and innovation and use of data, those rules should be set by society as a whole and so set by Parliament.

“The big tech companies need to abide by the law and we are strengthening the law.”

Speaking later in the Commons Mr Hancock told MPs that the “Wild West free-for-all” of internet companies has got to stop in light of the CA Facebook scandal.

Mr Hancock said: “It is increasingly clear that we need a new settlement with these big tech companies.

“We have shown and made the case over the last year that this Wild West free-for-all of the internet companies has got to come to an end. I think this is a turning point.”

Mr Hancock said the government had “been clear” there were contracts with CA in the past but there were no ongoing arrangements with the firm.

CA have denied any wrongdoing.

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