FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Senate vs. Facebook: Beware Untrustworthy Partners, Revisited

“Congress must determine if and how we need to strengthen privacy standards to ensure transparency and understanding for the billions of consumers who utilize [technology] products,” Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said at a US Senate hearing held to grill Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg on April 10.

“[I]f Facebook and other online companies will not or cannot fix the privacy invasions,” opined Bill Nelson (D-FL), “then we are going to have to — we, the Congress.”

Lindsey Graham (R-NC): “What do we tell our constituents, given what’s happened here, why we should let you self-regulate?”

Richard Blumenthal (D-CT): “I think legislation is necessary. The rules of the road have to be the result of congressional action.”

John Kennedy (R-LA): “I don’t want to vote to have to regulate Facebook, but by God I will.”

Back in early 2015, when then-president Barack Obama signed an executive order on cybersecurity “information sharing,” I pointed out in a column that the federal government is the last organization any sane human being would trust to secure the privacy of his or her data.

My opinion was swiftly and irrefutably vindicated: That same year produced revelations of government database breaches compromising the personal information of 22 million former government employees, 330,000 taxpayers, and 191 million voters.

So here we are, three years later, and the US Senate wants you to believe that it can, if it deems itself called upon to do so, excel the efforts of Mark Zuckerberg to safeguard the information you entrust to social media.

Cue laughter, followed by horror as the realization dawns that yes, the US Senate will undoubtedly soon deem itself called upon to do that.

It’s not that the rest of us need their help. We don’t, and even if we did they couldn’t help us.

It’s that we don’t understand the real problem, and they do.

The real problem is not with Facebook’s handling of your information.

The real problem is that politicians never have as much power as they want to have.

The solution to that problem is obvious: All they need to do is just award themselves a little bit more power. More power over Facebook. More power over the Internet. More power over your information. More power over you.

You didn’t really believe this was about your information, your privacy, or your freedom, did you? Politics is always about who’s in charge, and politicians always sincerely believe that it should be them.

More articles by:

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail