Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, recently put out a blog post where he talked about the privacy and potential implementation of encryption. His ideas were immediately scrutinized by some Senate members including Sen. Josh Hawley.
The Senator was concerned with the possibility of Facebook collecting data from private conversations and encrypted messages. The meta information extracted from analyzing these messages could be used to create stronger target ads meaning that new changes won’t really add privacy to the platform.
The question from Sen. Hawley was relayed to Facebook in a letter to which the company responded by saying that the possibility of data collection was not off the table. Additionally, the conversation between Facebook representatives and Hawley revolved around the new payment system that Facebook is currently considering to implement. The new secure payment system could also be a source of valuable metadata.
The company stressed that the “information about transactions can be used to “personalize the user’s experience” as outlined in the company’s policies in regards to personal information. Facebook also noted that they are still discussing the extent to which the metadata will be retained. However, the company also points out that the upside of making messaging more private will be a significant reduction in spam and improvements in the cooperation between the tech giant and law enforcement.
Sen. Hawley is one of the new faces in the Senate. He is an advocate for online privacy and doubts that Facebook is honest about privacy and potential benefits that users might enjoy after the implementation of encryption and additional privacy measures.
“If you send a roommate your rent money in encrypted messenger, Facebook reserves the right to the payment metadata to figure out you might live together,” said Mr. Hawley pointing out the hypocrisy.
This information is quite sensitive. There are many conversations about Facebook’s shadow profiles and how much power the tech giant has due to having so much data about their users. Hawley’s questions are justified, and, to be honest, we all should be questioning Zuckerberg’s actions and integrity.
We still don’t know when exactly these plans will be implemented (if ever), but actions of tech giants in regards to personal information of their users should be scrutinized.