Application security, Compliance Management, Network Security

Bipartisan Senate bill presses for privacy protections on social media

After Facebook's data collection and sharing practices came under scrutiny and criticism, two senators Tuesday introduced the bipartisan Social Media Privacy Protection and Consumer Rights Act of 2018 aimed at protecting user privacy.

The bill, penned by Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., and Sen. Amy Kobluchar, D-Minn., would compel social media firms to provide users with a copy of the data that has been collected on them and who had accessed it as well as compel the companies to present their terms of service agreement in plain language and in plain sight.

Echoing earlier statements he made as the Cambridge Analytica incident unfolded and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to Capitol Hill to answer questions, Kennedy said in a release Tuesday, “I don't want to hurt Facebook, and I don't want to regulate them half to death, either.”

The social media company has drawn the scorn and criticism from users, pundits and lawmakers alike—and is currently the subject of a handful of investigations in Congress, states like Massachusetts, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and by British regulators.

A class action lawsuit filed in a U.S. District Court in California said Facebook “stood idly by” while Cambridge University professor Aleksandr Kogan raided user accounts through a quiz app and shared the information with data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica and “made only the weakest attempts to prevent further access to this data.”

Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman law firm, which is representing plaintiffs in the suit, said in a release, “Facebook has repeatedly failed to uphold its own privacy agreements and policies, and it's brazenly neglected the data security of the billions of those who use its social media service.”

Berman said, “Instead of choosing to be vigilant, making appropriate investments in data security and stopping this massive harvesting of users' information by third parties, Facebook stood by as the private information of millions was funneled into the hands of bad actors.”

The bill introduced by Kennedy and Klobuchar seeks to remedy that and force social media companies to better protect the privacy of their users. “Consumers should have the right to control their personal data and that means allowing them to opt out of having their data collected and tracked,” Klobuchar noted in a statement, explaining that “the digital space can't keep operating like the Wild West at the expense of our privacy.”

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