December 19, 2018

Wyden on Latest Facebook Privacy Scandal: When Companies Repeatedly Lie To the Public And Congress, Congress Must Act to Protect Americans’ Privacy

Wyden’s Privacy Bill Would Create Strict Penalties for Companies That Misuse Americans’ Data

Washington, D.C. – Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., called for Congress to pass strong privacy legislation in response to the latest privacy scandal at Facebook, revealed in today’s New York Times.  

“Mark Zuckerberg had a lot of chutzpah telling Congress that Americans could control their data, when seemingly every other week Facebook faces a new privacy scandal for abusing our personal information.

“Sheryl Sandberg told me that personal privacy is a matter of national security, while we now know that Facebook shared vast amounts of data with Russian and Chinese telecom companies with strong links to their governments. When foreign governments have ready access to Americans’ data, it makes it even easier for them to microtarget us with divisive messages and false content designed to undermine our democracy.

“When companies repeatedly lie to Congress and the American people about what they do with our messages, location, likes and everything else, Congress has a duty to do something about it. I wrote a tough new consumer privacy bill to punish companies - and even put CEOs in jail – if they lie about protecting your privacy. Clearly these people need some skin in the game before they will take Americans’ privacy seriously.”

Wyden pressed Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg about the company’s partnerships with foreign corporations earlier this year. His review of privacy audits by the Federal Trade Commission revealed that Facebook failed to police how its partner companies handled user data. 

In response to failures at Facebook and other major corporations, last month Wyden introduced a consumer privacy bill to give Americans control over their personal data. The bill includes tough fines and possible jail time for CEOs who lie to the government about protecting consumers’ privacy.