An ongoing class-action lawsuit over a Cambridge Analytica scandal has forced Facebook to admit the obvious publicly: it is an entity hostile toward their users’ basic rights.
“There is no invasion of privacy at all, because there is no privacy,” Facebook attorney Orin Snyder admitted in court last week, according to a Law360 blog.
Snyder also made a curious claim that Facebook is a “digital town square” where users voluntarily surrender their private information to the tech giant.
“You have to closely guard something to have a reasonable expectation of privacy,” Snyder said.
U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria challenged Facebook’s argument and its Orwellian implications.
“What you are saying now sounds contrary to the message that Facebook itself disseminates about privacy,” Chhabria said, according to a Law.com blog.
On the same day, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wast telling his shareholders that his social media entity is planning to become a “privacy-focused social platform,” in a remarkable display of double-speak. He had made a similar pronouncement in a Facebook note from March.
“I believe we should be working towards a world where people can speak privately and live freely knowing that their information will only be seen by who they want to see it and won’t all stick around forever,” Zuckerberg wrote.
“If we can help move the world in this direction, I will be proud of the difference we’ve made,” he added.
Zuckerberg must be hoping that the public isn’t paying attention to what his lawyers are saying in court. Civil liberties activists are not buying his lip service.
But we know he won’t listen, b/c he holds 58% voting control in the company. pic.twitter.com/iUOw5OJRxf
— Fight for the Future (@fightfortheftr) May 30, 2019
“Zuckerberg has been the sole leader of Facebook for its entire 15 years of existence,” the watchdog group Fight for the Future wrote in a blog criticizing Facebook’s abusive practices.
“In that time, there has been no attempt to move away from a business model reliant on violating user privacy. Facebook’s current business practices are fundamentally at odds with democracy and human rights,” they added.
While Facebook may argue that it is a “digital town square” in an attempt to avoid legal culpability for its privacy violations, that is very similar to the argument being used by reformers hoping Facebook is re-classified as a utility so that the U.S.-based corporation has to abide by the Bill of Rights of the Constitution without exception.
If Facebook bans your account without proof you broke the law
You should be able to run straight to the courthouse
And get a court order that forces Facebook to restore your account – IMMEDIATELY
And Facebook should pay your legal fees
Call it a restoration order
— Will Chamberlain (@willchamberlain) May 4, 2019
"Now is not the time for boomer conservatives to rant about “muh private companies” either.
The digital square and the public square in person have become inseparable."
— Jack Posobiec ???????? (@JackPosobiec) May 2, 2019
The court ruled that you can't block people on social media because it "deprives them of access to official Presidential statements," and your feed is considered a "public square," so why is Facebook and Twitter allowed to deprive citizens access to that same public square?
— Mark Dice (@MarkDice) May 4, 2019
Zuckerberg may get more than he bargained for if their legal theories hold up in the court of law, as Facebook and similar Big Tech behemoths like Twitter and Google are under heavier scrutiny than ever before.
Justice Department Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google
On Tuesday morning the Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet Inc.’s Google, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The lawsuit accuses Google of engaging in monopolistic, anticompetitive practices to tighten their stranglehold on the search and search advertising market.
In the words of the WSJ report, the company is “maintaining its status as gatekeeper to the internet through an unlawful web of exclusionary and interlocking business agreements that shut out competitors.” Google also allegedly uses billions of dollars in ad revenue to pay smartphone manufacturers, carriers, and browsers, so that they “maintain Google as their preset, default search engine.”
Many have been eagerly awaiting this move for some time. Big League Politics published an article five months ago on the Justice Department’s intention to file an antitrust suit against the tech giant:
Despite the Wuhan virus pandemic making work complicated for the Justice Department, Attorney General William Barr has allocated significant resources into the Google investigation and continues to place it as a top priority. Barr told The Wall Street Journal in March that he wanted the Justice Department to make a final decision this summer. “I’m hoping that we bring it to fruition early summer,” Barr said during the time. “And by fruition I mean, decision time.”
Paxton said the pandemic was not preventing his office from pursuing further action. “We’ve issued [civil subpoenas] to Google and impacted third parties. We hope to have the investigation wrapped up by fall,” Paxton declared in a statement. “If we determine that filing is merited we will go to court soon after that.”
Google responded to the lawsuit saying, “Today’s lawsuit by the Department of Justice is deeply flawed. People use Google because they choose to—not because they’re forced to or because they can’t find alternatives. We will have a fuller statement this morning.”
It’s about time we see one of these Big Tech behemoths get challenged in court. Hopefully this represents a first step in the government going after Silicon Valley in general.
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