2 minutes reading time (382 words)

Who is pulling the strings...?

Photo by Randy Colas
Bad actors at play!

When I was a child, I was an avid viewer of The Lone Ranger which was a long running series about the Wild West. There would invariably be a Native American telling myself and my entranced siblings that “white man speaks with forked tongue”. Since those days of black and white TV nothing much has changed in this respect, especially in certain corporate cultures.

So, do you think that Google and Facebook are working in your best interests when it comes to your privacy? All is not what it seems. Whilst these mega companies are telling the public one thing about their falling over backwards to protect our data etc., they are in fact using their wealth and not inconsiderable clout to peddle their influence to, at times, unsuspecting think tanks and privacy advisory bodies.

Through donations, these two corporations have weaseled their way into the likes of the Brookings Institute and the Center for Democracy and Technology. Now, whilst those venerable think tanks would totally refute any suggestion that they have been “paid-off”, this does raise issues yet again about the lobbying culture in the USA and its pervasive use to help manipulate proposed legislation. Both Google and Facebook are running scared of local State laws as these could have a far greater detrimental effect on their data collection activities. They have openly said that they want Federal Law to preempt State Law. Cynics might say that it is unsurprising that one of these groups advocates for exactly that. There is now also support within the advisory community for the selling of user data to 3rd parties. Google and Facebook must be basking in a smug glow of self-congratulation.

Most of these bodies play their cards pretty close to their chests when it comes to disclosure of the exact amount of donations. Whilst it has not reached a stage yet where the fox is in charge at the hen house, Google and Facebook are by no means privacy-centric so they will do whatever they can to turn the tide of opinion in their direction. With privacy legislation now high on the agenda, we should all be very wary as to what these two corporations (and others!) are doing behind the scenes to minimize the effects upon them of upcoming laws.


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