San Jose Inside: Facebook Scandal Renews Call for Stronger Privacy Protections

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

San Jose Inside


By Kristin Lam

Sen. Dianne Feinstein gave Mark Zuckerberg a fiery ultimatum. Before a roomful of a few hundred Silicon Valley executives on Monday, the top Democrat on a Senate panel investigating Facebook’s massive privacy breach told the Facebook CEO to correct course or have the government do it for him.

“Fix it before it really breaks,” she said at a “fireside chat” in Sunnyvale with Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino.

“If you don’t control your platform, we’re going to have to do something about it,” she added. “I am hopeful that they will.”

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Meanwhile, Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-Greenbrae) authored a bill that would impose new restrictions. AB 2182 proposes establishing a California Data Protection Authority, which would standardize online agreements and remove personal info from databases.

In an interview with San Jose Inside, Levine says the government needs to be engaged in creating user protections as personal information is “being monetized by big tech and weaponized against us.”

The bill, he says, would “help promulgate reasonable regulations so that when people provide permissions and approve user agreements, that they understand what it is. It puts limitations on how user data can be used, bought or sold and can perhaps restore credibility to big tech and rein in the abuses.”

Levine sees the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation as a model. It will go into effect in May and aims to protect consumers from privacy and data breaches. In his view, Silicon Valley’s economic and political sway shouldn’t prevent regulations.

“Perhaps we have a greater responsibility,” he says. “We have the skills, knowledge, and practical applications of these technologies in our state that should make California a leader in regulating big tech.”