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Consumer Watchdog Wants More Than Regulation For Facebook

Consumer Watchdog has called on Congress to enact legislation that would protect consumers’ online privacy in the wake of Facebook’s data scandal.

“Facebook has a longtime record of violating privacy, making a show of apologizing, and then going forward to invade privacy again,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s privacy and technology project director. “Hearings aren’t enough, unless Congress simply wants to be an enabler for Zuckerberg’s continued abuses.”

On Tuesday (April 10), Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced The Customer Online Notification for Stopping Edge-provider Network Transgressions (CONSENT) Act.

The CONSENT Act would require edge providers – such as Facebook and Google – to obtain opt-in consent from users to use, share or sell users’ personal information, as well as make sure that these same providers create reasonable data security practices, notify users about all collection, use, and sharing of users’ personal information, and inform users of a data breach.

It would also give enforcement authority to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Consumer Watchdog pointed out that Facebook’s latest breach violates its 2011 consent decree with the FTC, adding that the social media giant should be fined.

“Congress cannot trust Zuckerberg to take action in the interest of the American people on his own. The past 14 years have proven this,” said Simpson. “It’s past time for Congress to enact legislation that will ensure that Facebook and other tech giants can no longer continue to invade our privacy.”

The organization added that Facebook, which must obey the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe when it goes into effect in May, should also abide by those same protections in the United States.

“Will we simply accept Zuckerberg’s apologies again after Facebook’s next privacy violation, as we have been doing for the past 14 years? Congress needs to impose financial costs on technology companies responsible for consumers’ privacy rights violations,” said Sahiba Sindhu, a consumer advocate with the non-profit nonpartisan public interest group.

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