US & EU Lawmakers Call For Better Facebook Data Oversight

Motherboard revealed that Facebook’s systems are designed in such a way that the company can struggle to track users’ data within its own systems, according to VICE.

After Motherboard published the document, several US and European lawmakers called for stronger oversight of the tech giant to make sure it complies with existing regulations, such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and California’s Consumer Privacy Act, and even more government regulations to protect users’ privacy.

Democratic Sen. Ed Markey, who is a member of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security, told Motherboard in a statement that “leaked document after leaked document show that Big Tech continues to play fast and loose with users’ personal information.”

“I’m concerned that these revelations are much more than simply a breach of consumer trust but an open door for specific threats of harmful data uses,” he added in the emailed statement. 

The document was written in 2021 by Facebook privacy engineers, who warn that they “can’t confidently make controlled policy changes or external commitments such as ‘we will not use X data for Y purpose.’ And yet, this is exactly what regulators expect us to do,” and that “there are tens-of-thousands of uncontrolled data ingestion points into Ads systems today.”

The engineers used an eloquent metaphor to explain the challenges the company is facing.

“We’ve built systems with open borders. The result of these open systems and open culture is well described with an analogy: Imagine you hold a bottle of ink in your hand. This bottle of ink is a mixture of all kinds of user data ([Third party data], [First party data], [Sensitive categories data], Europe, etc.) You pour that ink into a lake of water (our open data systems; our open culture) … and it flows … everywhere,” the document read. “How do you put that ink back in the bottle? How do you organize it again, such that it only flows to the allowed places in the lake?” 

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