Facebook Privacy Scandal: Why Regulation Is Not The Answer
As Facebook’s privacy crisis grows, so too are calls for the government to regulate it, including from Republicans, the tech industry and Mark Zuckerberg himself. What could be wrong with that?
Speaking at a China Development Forum in Beijing, Apple (APPL) Chairman Tim Cook said, when asked about Facebook, “I think that this certain situation is so dire and has become so large that probably some well-crafted regulation is necessary.”
Zuckerberg himself says that “I’m not sure we shouldn’t be regulated,” adding that “I actually think the question is more ‘What is the right regulation?’ rather than ‘Yes or no, should it be regulated?’ “
So, with everyone seemingly in agreement — including the very company at the heart of the current scandal — why not regulate these companies?
Let’s leave aside for a moment the government’s spectacularly bad track record when it comes to regulations, which include most recently the financial crisis in the heavily regulated banking industry.
The first question to ask is why should a company like Facebook be regulated?
Here’s Tim Cook’s answer: “The ability of anyone to know what you’ve been browsing about for years, who your contacts are, who their contacts are, things you like and dislike and every intimate detail of your life — from my own point of view it shouldn’t exist.”
But what Cook leaves out is that every bit of information Facebook has on its users — just as every bit of information Apple has on its own customers — has been volunteered by them, after they’ve agreed to the company’s privacy provisions.