5 ways Congress could regulate Facebook

5 ways Congress could regulate Facebook

There will no doubt be additional legislation proposed in the wake of Zuckerberg’s testimony, but based on statements made during the committee hearings this week and legislation that has been formally proposed in both the House and Senate, here’s a quick overview of five ways members of Congress might regulate Facebook and other tech giants. and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who have come to call the proposal a kind of “privacy bill of rights.” In essence, the CONSENT Act would require companies to give users clear information about how their data will be used and would mandate that users be given the choice to opt into sharing their personal information instead of having to opt out. “My reservation about your testimony today is that I don’t see how you can change your business model unless there are specific rules of the road,” Blumenthal told Zuckerberg. “It doesn’t seem like the FTC has the necessary tools to do what needs to be done to protect consumer data and consumer privacy, and we can’t exclusively rely on companies to self-regulate in the best interest of consumers,” Ruiz said. In his many responses to questions about GDPR, Zuckerberg did not commit to bring every element to consumers in the United Staes, so it’s tough to tell exactly which portions of GDPR will make it to U.S. consumers. For the United States to adopt something similar to GDPR it will have to have some essential elements like a better definition of personal data notify users of a data breach within 72 hours, and consumers have the right to know if their data is being processed, where, and for what reason. What we know won’t be extended to consumers in the United States with the incorporation of GDPR is financial penalties for failure to protect consumer data. There has to be a willingness on the part of this Congress to step up and provide policy protection to the privacy rights of every American consumer,” Welch said. Formally introduced to the Senate last October, the Honest Ads Act has 22 co-sponsors, more than any other piece of legislation being considered in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) repeatedly asked Zuckerberg if he would be willing to advocate for the passage of the Honest Ads Act to convince others in the tech industry to support the bill, to which Zuckerberg responded that he would support it in writing and that Facebook is implementing the guidelines set out in the bill.

Facebook rolls out $40K user data abuse bounty ahead of Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony
Facebook data misuse firm snubs UK watchdog’s legal order
Australia latest to open probe into Facebook data scandal
U.S. Capital Dome
Above: U.S. Capital Dome

Over the course of two days and 10 hours of testimony, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was grilled by members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives this week. While questions about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and misuse of the personal data of tens of millions of U.S. citizens were what brought him there, many of the questions lobbed at Zuckerberg centered around how Facebook should be regulated in the future.

Just how clueless many members of Congress are about technology was made abundantly clear this week. Nonetheless, bipartisan consensus appears to be forming that Facebook can no longer be trusted to self-regulate and that Congress must step in. But consensus is still building around what exactly can be done.

There will no doubt be additional legislation proposed in the wake of Zuckerberg’s testimony, but based on statements made during the committee hearings this week and legislation that has been formally proposed in both the House and Senate, here’s a quick overview of five ways members of Congress might regulate Facebook and other tech giants.

1. A ‘privacy bill of rights’

The CONSENT Act (PDF) stands for Customer Online Notification for Stopping Edge-provider Network Transgressions and would require the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to create data privacy protections for consumers. The bill was proposed by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who have come to call the proposal a kind of “privacy bill of rights.”

In essence, the CONSENT Act would require companies to give users clear information about how their data will be used and would mandate that users be given the choice to opt into sharing their personal information instead of having to opt out.

Some form of legislation is necessary, Blumenthal said.

“My reservation about your testimony today is that I don’t see how you can change your business model unless there are specific rules of the road,” Blumenthal told Zuckerberg. “Your business model is to monetize user information to maximize profit over privacy. And unless there are specific rules and requirements enforced by an outside agency, I have no assurance that these kinds of vague commitments are going to produce action.”

2. Digital Consumer Protection Agency

Beyond formal legislation proposed thus far, Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA) suggested the creation of a Digital Consumer Protection Agency that can spring into action to deal with situations like the Cambridge Analytica breach and other high-profile breaches that have occurred over the years.

Like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the new agency’s central purpose would be to represent the rights of consumers.

Ruiz suggests that such a body could oversee how consumer data is collected, shared, and used by companies and fight against things like identity theft, as well as the kinds of data misuse seen in the Cambridge Analytica affair.

Fears of overcorrection or the enactment of too much regulation were shared vocally by Republicans on the House of Representatives committee.

A 2011 FTC consent decree already provides consumer protection and financial penalties, some members of the House…

Pin It on Pinterest

Shares
Share This