Congress has recently grilled Facebook’s Marc Zukerberg and Facebook itself has come in for a lot of (well-deserved) abuse in recent weeks. But is Facebook really the problem? Ms. Zeynep Tufekci, a cyber-security expert and commentator, rather suspects not. The real problem, she suggests, is Congress, which has had the power to regulate social media, and protect its users all along, but has preferred not to.
Writing in the New York Times, she notes that she has been asked frequently just what Congressmen should be asking Zuckerburg. But, she says, “Here’s my answer: Nothing. We already know most everything we need for legislators to pass laws that would protect us from what Facebook has unleashed.”
She then lists exactly what Congress should require Facebook to do (which it has known all along) to protect its users. Here paraphrasing, she says:
“First, personalized data collection would be allowed only through opt-in mechanisms that were clear, concise and transparent…
“Second, people would have access, if requested, to all the data a company has collected on them…
“Third, the use of any data collected would be limited to specifically enumerated purposes, for a designated period of time — and then would expire…
“Fourth, the aggregate use of data should be regulated. Merely saying that individuals own their data isn’t enough…”
What Ms. Tufeckci does not address is why Congress has been so slow to impose these seemingly common sense measures. We, however, might be forgiven for speculating that, perhaps, a GOP-dominated Congress might have strong motivations to keep things exactly as they are.
For better, and very much for worse.
The little professor