Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to testify before House and Senate committees next week in the wake of intense congressional concerns over data privacy. Members of Congress have been particularly stirred by media reports about consulting firm Cambridge Analytica’s methods of accessing of data from tens of millions of Facebook users for campaign purposes.
House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) issued a statement announcing their committee’s hearing next Wednesday. They said, “This hearing will be an important opportunity to shed light on critical consumer data privacy issues and help all Americans better understand what happens to their personal information online.”
The Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees will hold a joint hearing the afternoon before. Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) believes “users deserve to know how their information is shared and secured,” and Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) is interested in Zuckerberg’s “vision for addressing problems that have generated significant concern about Facebook’s role in our democracy, bad actors using the platform, and user privacy.”
NRB has also been concerned with treatment of consumers by Facebook and other edge providers. NRB president & CEO Dr. Jerry A. Johnson commented, “I welcome these hearings and congratulate Mr. Zuckerberg for being willing to speak to representatives of the American people. I would respectfully suggest that, in the interest of protecting our republic’s foundational freedoms, Members of Congress should discuss with Mr. Zuckerberg instances of apparent targeted censorship on his ubiquitous platform and those of other tech giants.”
In December, NRB launched its Internet Freedom Watch initiative (InternetFreedomWatch.org) to draw attention to the censorship of Christian and conservative speech by companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Apple. NRB sent letters to those tech giants (Facebook’s is here), so far not formally answered, urging constructive conversation and a resolution to this swelling problem. NRB also called on Congress to hold hearings on online viewpoint censorship, and we hope Members of Congress will seek answers from Zuckerberg and other tech leaders about their commitment to consumers’ otherwise lawful free speech.
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: April 6, 2018