Google and Twitter may be next in line for a Capitol Hill grilling on privacy after Facebook co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg spent the better part of this week being questioned on the company’s data collection and management practices, as well as their relation to the industry as a whole. In a statement given to CNET, Democratic Senator Mark Warner from Virginia referred to the existing state of data protection practices in the sector as “a huge issue” that both Twitter and “Google and YouTube as a single entity need to address.”
Alphabet’s subsidiary, Twitter, and Facebook already met with lawmakers in November when they discussed their efforts to combat online misinformation campaigns such as the one certain foreign actors from Russia ran during the 2016 presidential election in the United States. To date, Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted thirteen Russian nationals and three entities from the same country for illegally interfering with the U.S. democratic process. The Cambridge Analytica controversy that prompted Facebook’s stock to plummet and placed the company under massive regulatory scrutiny is also partially related to the case, with the American political consulting firm being accused of buying improperly harvested data of some 87 million Facebook users in order to support the Trump campaign during the last election. While the firm worked for the campaign, it repeatedly dismissed using the data obtained in 2014 through a personality quiz that asked users to log into it with their Facebook accounts and has already agreed to a forensic audit of its servers meant to prove it deleted the controversially mined data in 2015 after Facebook asked it to do so.
Google‘s business model is relatively similar to that of Facebook in that it offers largely free services to consumers, collects their data, then uses it for the purposes of targeting advertisements it sells. Many industry watchers are already speculating about the Mountain View-based tech giant being targeted by the new privacy probes being ordered by Capitol Hill and any regulations that may stem from the Cambridge Analytica scandal are likely to apply to the Silicon Valley as a whole and not just Facebook.
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