The US is edging ever closer to regulating its giant, world-famous tech companies. But even as lawmakers in DC spar with the likes of Google and Facebook over potential overreach, European regulators have already been busy. And there are no signs of stopping next year.
Facebook and Apple defended their decision to block law enforcement from accessing communications among their billions of users during a contentious hearing on Tuesday, even as they face intensifying pressure from lawmakers and the U.S. attorney general. The hearing came against a backdrop of reignited tensions between Silicon Valley and the government over whether tech companies are enabling criminal activity as they work to build privacy into their products.
To add to the pressure on the banks, tech giants like Apple, Facebook and now Google have been making inroads into finance. Apple earlier this year launched a credit card, piggybacking off an account provided by Goldman Sachs, while Facebook announced its libra cryptocurrency initiative and Google is set to debut a checking account next year.
There’s nothing “free” about what companies like Facebook and Google are offering, Warner said. Established companies don’t want more transparency about how data is monetized and whether it differentiates among individuals. Whether or not data is considered property, said Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., companies are making money off its value. Out of the 95 billion dollars Facebook made last year, he said, most of the revenue came from targeted advertisements.
If Warren were to be elected, “then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we will win the legal challenge,” Zuckerberg said. “And does that still suck for us? Yeah. I mean, I don’t want to have a major lawsuit against our own government.... But look, at the end of the day, if someone’s going to try to threaten something that existential, you go to the mat and fight.”
With Big Tech accused of everything from decimating industries to abusing privacy, calls are growing for the creation of a federal regulator. Presidential candidates, consumer advocates and some antitrust enforcers have focused on breaking up Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc., Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google -- or at least forcing them to unwind past acquisitions. Yet those moves could take years and face lengthy court challenges.
Hundreds of millions of phone numbers linked to Facebook accounts have been found online. The exposed server contained more than 419 million records over several databases on users across geographies, including 133 million records on U.S.-based Facebook users, 18 million records of users in the U.K., and another with more than 50 million records on users in Vietnam.
Facebook has been hiring third-party contractors to review and transcribe audio clips of its users, according to a new report from Bloomberg. Facebook claims it stopped using human workers to review audio clips “more than a week ago,” noting that the contractors were previously hired to check whether anonymized conversations were being correctly transcribed on the Messenger app.
As wires increasingly go the way of rotary phones, nearly every industry is trying to push into underused spectrum space. The number of Wi-Fi hotspots globally is forecast to grow sixfold by 2021 as fifth-generation, or 5G, cellular networks take shape to underpin everything from autonomous vehicles to industrial robots, according to the Federal Communications Commission. That means opening more space on the radio spectrum.
The FTC found that Facebook deceived its users about their privacy protections while allowing third parties to harvest their data and that the company failed to establish a "reasonable privacy program that safeguarded the privacy, confidentiality, and integrity of user information" as required under a previous agreement with the agency. The agency further alleged that Facebook illegally used phone numbers that users provided to protect their accounts' security for advertising purposes without their consent.