The organisers of the next month’s Commonwealth Games in Australia have been caught up in the ongoing Facebook data-mining scandal.
Gold Coast, where thousands of journalists from around the world have begun descending, had spent $5m building its own Wi-Fi infrastructure in time for the Games.
The local city council have since abandoned their plan to let visitors use their Facebook accounts to sign up for a free and fast Wi-Fi service while they attended the Games after concerns were raised about the how the data was going to be used.
The Facebook accounts would have provided information to help shape future tourism marketing campaigns, primarily through monitoring the visitors’ country of origin. The council have insisted that they had no intention to mine or store any private data and that it would not be shared with “other agencies.”
After Facebook admitted this week that it cannot ensure the security of its users, the Gold Coast council have decided to modify the Wi-Fi feature so that visitors can login without using the social media platform.
This comes after pressure from the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties that challenged the unnecessary collection of data by the council.
Its president, Michael Cope, explained that the council could collect a lot of other information than just what they wanted to use for their tourism marketing. Depending on individual’s Facebook privacy settings, it could “include how many friends they have, who their friends are, what they’ve liked on Facebook and their photos.”
The Games are being held from April 4 to 15.