Senate committee invites Facebook, Google, Twitter CEOs to testify over data privacy

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Washington | Published: March 27, 2018 8:26:34 AM

In a statement, Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said Zuckerberg has been invited to discuss the company's past and future policies regarding the protection and monitoring of consumer data.

Amidst reports of misuse of consumer data, a powerful Congressional committee has summoned the CEOs of top three social media platforms. (Reuters)

Amidst reports of misuse of consumer data, a powerful Congressional committee has summoned the CEOs of top three social media platforms: Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Indian-American Sunder Pichai of Google, and Jack Dorsey of Twitter for a hearing on data privacy. The hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee has been scheduled for April 10. In a statement, Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said Zuckerberg has been invited to discuss the company’s past and future policies regarding the protection and monitoring of consumer data. The hearing will broadly cover privacy standards for the collection, retention and dissemination of consumer data for commercial use. “It will also examine how such data may be misused or improperly transferred and what steps companies like Facebook can take to better protect personal information of users and ensure more transparency in the process,” a media statement said.

Grassley also invited Pichai and Dorsey to discuss the future of data privacy in the social media industry and how to develop “rules of the road” that encourage companies to develop tailored approaches to privacy that satisfy consumer expectations while maintaining incentives for innovation. Senator Mark Warner also sought answers from these social media companies on data protection. “I celebrate the success of Facebook, Google & Twitter; but with their power comes responsibility that they must acknowledge. This isn’t a Russia problem. If we value civic discourse and fair elections, they have to step up and answer to more than their shareholders,” he said.

Senator Ed Markey said Facebook’s failure to protect millions of Americans’ private information in the Cambridge Analytica breach shows “why we cannot rely on corporations” to police themselves. “We need laws that prevent corporations from abusing Americans privacy rights,” said Markey. Meanwhile, online news publication ‘Intercept’ reported that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement uses backend Facebook data to locate and track immigrants that it is working to round up. Congressman Bobby L Rush has introduced a legislation that would require the FTC to issue regulations requiring companies like Facebook that own or possess data containing personal information to establish specified security policies and procedures to treat and protect such information.

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