The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, will hold a hearing on data privacy on April 10. The Committee has asked the CEOs of Facebook, Google, and Twitter to personally testify in the hearing.
Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has already declined to participate in the UK hearing and will send some of his other executives in his stead. Facebook hasn’t said yet whether or not Zuckerberg will be present at the U.S. Senate hearing.
Senate Hearing On Data Privacy In Social Media
The hearing will primarily cover privacy standards that are “needed for the collection, retention, and dissemination of consumer data for commercial use.” It will also examine how the data could be misused or improperly accessed and what steps companies like Facebook will be taking to ensure that user data is protected and there is sufficient transparency in the data collection process.
The hearing seems to seek answers mainly from Facebook, which has been in the center of attention over the past week because of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The FTC recently announced its investigation into Facebook’s data practices and to see whether or not it has violated an agreement made between the agency and the company back in 2011.
However, the senators also want to hear from Google and Twitter’s CEO about what they believe should be the “rules of the road” that encourage companies to develop tailored approaches to privacy that would satisfy consumers’ expectations.
Who’s Missing From The Hearing?
Although the hearing is a good start to learn more about what went wrong with Facebook’s lax platform policies, and to potentially uncover other issues with Google and Twitter’s data practices, the Senate Judiciary Committee seems to have invited only one side of the argument.
Facebook, Google, and Twitter all have an interest in perpetuating their data collection practices and minimizing regulation. Therefore, whatever solutions are suggested by these companies, they are unlikely to put significant restrictions on their own practices, which may not necessarily be to their users’ benefit.
The parties that seem to be missing most from the hearing are privacy activists or consumer privacy groups such as the EFF or ACLU.These people may also have a different view than the CEOs of Facebook and Google do when it comes to data privacy.
Additionally, Facebook, Google, and Twitter are not the only companies that may have grossly exploited users’ data or may have done a poor job of protecting users’ data when sharing it with their advertisers or other third-parties.
Companies such as Internet Service Providers, who not long ago fought to kill the FCC’s privacy rules, as well as data brokers who buy data from one company and sell it to another should also be take part in this type of hearings. These companies are not usually at the top of everyone’s minds when thinking of data privacy, but their practices may be just as bad, if not worse than those of Facebook and Google.