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Last night, The New York Times reported on its investigation of widespread data sharing practices between Facebook and over 150 major tech companies. Despite a consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission prohibiting Facebook from sharing customer information without consent, and despite auditing mechanisms in the consent decree designed to spot practices that shared customer information in violation of the decree, the practices continued for years. The New York Times article suggests that some of the information sharing may still be going on to this day.
The following can be attributed to Charlotte Slaiman, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“If these allegations are true, Facebook violated users' trust and likely the FTC's consent decree. Together with the recent revelations from the UK Parliament, yesterday's NYTimes story paints a picture that's becoming clearer and clearer: Facebook apparently recognized the very high value of this private user data, traded it freely to curry favor with other powerful tech giants, and may have even withheld data strategically from potential competitors.
“The FTC should consider this in their current investigation of Facebook, making sure to craft remedies that will protect users’ private personal data as well as fostering competition both on and off the platform. But perhaps more importantly, Congress must take up the issue of the power of digital platforms in the coming year. Americans deserve privacy and competitive markets. The soft touch, self-regulation approach to this industry is far past its expiration date.”