Will the US tighten up ante platform control after Facebook scandal?



After a “refreshing and honest” performance in a two-day Congress testimony over the privacy breach scandal, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was asked to deepen “self-regulation” efforts to the social platform, leaving little sign that the elephant in the room is moving at any pace.

What regulations and when the Capitol Hill shall adopt them remain debatable and unclear. The reality is the US has the world’s largest number of platforms faced with similar privacy breach issues.

Hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday saw Zuckerberg face off with 91 different US lawmakers, spanning 10 hours and around 600 questions covering regulation measures and content control.

Some questions have been challenged regarding the relevance of the case.

Many of the questions have “so little understanding of what is going on in the technology,” Douglas Smith, former assistant secretary of US Department of Homeland Security, said on CGTN’s The Point (@thepointwithlx).

He doubted the US government’s knowledge of regulation differences between the US, the EU and elsewhere, citing platforms in the EU are “far more” regulated.

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation will go into effect on May 25, but the Secure and Protect Americans’ Data Act for the US is up in the air.

In an earlier Facebook case back in 2011, the government just warned the platform to step up data protection, recalled Rob Koepp, director of the Economist Corporate Network. “But it didn’t.”

“It’s much a matter of framework as it is an enforcement,” Koepp said, adding a

“right formula” is required in “big data” times when companies have collected massive and valuable data for user-targeted strategies.

“There is going to be more regulations coming… but probably not as much as the EU,” Koepp predicated, despite concern that Smith said increased regulations are likely to strengthen Facebook’s market dominance.

For the US lawmakers, Andy Mok, founder of the Beijing-based Red Pagoda Resources, said they have a bit learning curve.

“The political leadership is primarily on popularity, not expertise and experience, especially in technological fields,” he said. It's philosophy that “let the Silicon Valley do its things” now presents drawbacks.

Smith echoed that the US legislation cannot keep up the pace with the tech advance, saying that pressure from the user, including the potential log-off may trigger quick moves by tech companies.

Facebook on Wednesday unveiled new privacy tools and setting to give users more control over how their information is shared.

Mok said that Zuckerberg started Facebook with hacker ethos in his campus dorm—now a utility whereas a start-up, it needs fundamental changes in philosophy, procedures and policies.