While listening to the recent questioning of Mark Zuckerberg, the senators felt a little like Claude Rains in “Casablanca,” who was “shocked — shocked!” to find gambling going on at Rick’s, just as they handed him his takings for the night.
Facebook is 14 years old, and it has been growing in plain sight. I suspect this is not the first time someone complained to their senator about the need for regulations to help harness the onslaught of any number of platforms that take in a great deal of data.
We have complained that credit cards wait too long to inform us of a breach, insurance companies and hospitals fall prey, and Russia seems to have us in their cyber crosshairs. The Senate and House have been doing precious little over the more than a decade to try to find boundaries that make sense.
Russian influence deserves all the time and attention it takes to clear the president of these charges. Our faith in our government rests in such proof of innocence. One man’s witch hunt is another man’s due process.
Trump rails about how unfair life is while justice grinds as it is meant to do, slowly and deliberately. He knows how long these things can take. Because his life is riddled with lawsuits and legal actions, he knows the drill. You would think that he would welcome the case that will prove him right.
The Senate and House have known for over 14 years that we have been building a runaway train of data. They, along with every teen in America, became addicted to instant contact. It let them “reach out to their constituents.” The House and Senate could have been building in safety regulations and criteria but have done precious little and now are “shocked — shocked!” to find data leaking going on.
If their campaigns liked Cambridge Analytica’s message, my guess is they just laughed and pushed it hard to their followers, and now they are shocked. Sadly, both sides of the aisle play these games because we no longer think of protecting our total population further than the midterm or presidential election. Any data is fair game, any lie or engine will do — Russia included.
Mr. Zuckerberg may be the man on the hot seat right now, but he can also be a driver for real change. He can push the other CEOs to join him in putting their very intelligent and creative minds to work to correct this, but they must work in concert with the Senate and House, and that is where I lose hope.
Those who hate all regulation may be pressured by the public to take on this challenge. Some may not, most particularly if they side with the dark sites that push lies and data-mining. The First Amendment is tough to live with when it means a troll can lie with impunity, or another country can create entities whose sole purpose is to push gullible people to believe untruths.
Wrapping our minds around protecting our data while preserving freedom of speech, while also hoping for some modicum amount of truth and culpability, is daunting. There comes a time when people must stand and be held accountable for their actions if they do harm, like selling data or breaching data.
There should be some repercussions if an entity willingly and knowingly sells a lie to do harm. A lie is nearly always harmful to someone. Right now it is harming the fabric of our governance.
The Senate and House know these things and only act when some big dirt hits the fan. Be very watchful, because this emergency is most likely to dive into a committee and not come up for air for some time unless we tell them we are watching.
Our democracy is as unprotected as if we decided to have no Navy or Marines. While we are busy thinking about sending our National Guard to the Mexican border, our eyes are on the wrong ball. Russia has eyes on our phones, iPads, tablets and whatever other device you have. Russia is working to misinform our citizens and look as if it is truthful. Russia is the Fake News, but neither the Senate, House or president want to build that wall.
Mr. Zuckerberg may be more important to your safety and freedoms than you can know, because he may actually be willing to do something. Those who need your vote seem all too OK with no walls around the new Russian invasion.
Mr. Zuckerberg: To quote Claude Rains, “This may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”