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tv   Washington Journal Brendan Borderlon  CSPAN  March 31, 2018 1:36pm-2:06pm EDT

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privacy concerns in the light of the facebook-cambridge analytica story. this is half an hour. by brendan bordelon. we are talking about facelift and data privacy. guest: thank you for having me. host: your piece goes beyond facebook and beyond events of recent weeks or months. you write that "when the firestorm now engulfing facebook first kicked up earlier this month, it took many eight at privacy experts by surprise -- experts by surprise. their surprise was in at facebook's move to quietly share the personal data of around 50 million american users with cambridge analytic a. tell us more. guest: when he talked to data privacy experts, the have been folks tracking the practices of
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these companies for years, not just facebook. essentially any major online platform where you as the user have a consistent presence, they have been tracking these practices for years. they take your clicks, your likes, pretty much any activity online, the media you consume, and create a portfolio about you. they collated, repackage it, and sell it to third-party ,dvertisers and increasingly political campaigns and political consultancies. host: why are we talking about this so much now as opposed to 1, 5, 10 years ago? guest: that is the kind of thing that data privacy experts were scratching their heads over. it is no one thing. one scientist said it was a perfect storm of factors. one of the issues as facebook and silicon valley in general are significantly more toxic than before.
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the obama campaign did similar things, targeting facebook ads to face-off with user data. there really wasn't and outrage at that time silicon valley was seen as sort of the underdog. new, 21stre almost a century of robber barons. about foreigncern meddling in the election, about facebook's role in the election, the spread of fake news, the spread of russian propaganda. all of that plays into this and comes to the sphere that our elections are being compromised by the large tech companies. host: what is the fallout and what is next? guest: it depends. for facebook, it will depend on the federal trade commission investigation. they have reopened an investigation. we have to see what they find.
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if they determine a significant amount of violations, it is $40,000 per violation, so that can quickly run into the trillions of dollars. if they avoid an ftc issue, it will be the court of public opinion that will decide facebook's fate, and it will depend on how much this remains a facebook issue versus a broader, tech industry issue. google has been quiet about this . if google and other major platforms are potentially doing slightly more intrusive things, if they get sucked in, that will give facebook a breather and it will make it much more imperative that we come to a federal policy solution on this, and get to a place where people feel more comfortable their data is being properly protected. host: we have a couple of phone lines for our guests. one is for facebook users, (202) 748-8000. everyone else, (202) 748-8001. our guest is a first-time guest at "washington journal," a
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technology correspondent for "the national journal." what kind of information is typically collected? guest: it depends. that is an important question we have not gotten to the bottom of. particular,aigns in what i am hearing from david dust data privacy experts, the obama campaign relied on data like race, age, sex, party identification, relatively general information that was used to target users and sort of put the right political advertisements in front of the right eyeballs. the issue with cambridge analytica is the idea of psychographic targeting. they were going in and looking at your likes and dislikes, and activities on social media, and they would make a psychological profile about you. if they determine you were particularly neurotic, or
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responded well to arguments based on emotion or anger, they would tailor the political as you saw to specifically hit you at your psychological weak point. that is becoming more common and the technology is getting to the point where lots and lots of companies can do that. that feels a lot more intrusive than just some basic age, race, sex demographic data used in the past. it is expanding rapidly and a lot of it is driven by new technology. host: this headline of "the --hington post" "facebook's a facebook executive, andrew bosworth, defended the company's questionable data mining process. life byt costs a exposing someone to bullies," said mr. bosworth, according to buzz feed.
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"maybe someone dies in a terror attack and the ugly truth is that we believe in connecting people so deeply, and anything that allows us to connect more people more often is de facto good." guest: it is amazing to me that they put that in writing and thought it would never get out. this whole issue of the memo and everything we are seeing is a firestorm in silicon valley, comes down to a sense of miss right -- misplaced priorities on the part of tech companies. it is just an idea that the rules do not apply to them. maybe that sounds harsh, but for so long they had so much press coverage and were seen as the darlings of washington. i think i got used to that idea that they are always the good guy, they cannot make mistakes. that memo sort of proves it. even if people die, we are connecting people and that is worth it. they need to start recognize there is a change going on culturally and in washington,
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and if they do not wake up, things will not turn out well. combine the new skepticism with the sea change privacy now underway in europe, sweeping new data regulations are set to take effect in may, and experts say some spillover from those rules is affecting the u.s., a sign that america's once blase attitude for data protection may be hardening. of datahe history breaches and data privacy concerns and america typically goes a few years of outrage in shock, how could this happen? i had no idea i signed away my rights. then after that, it fizzles and fades away. this does feel a little bit different because of the nexus of politics and russia and foreign meddling and all of these things. it is too early to tell if it is going to be the straw that breaks the camel's back.
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data privacy experts are hoping we move toward a more european-style model, and this will get us a little bit closer. maybe it will tip us over. host: there are hearings coming up on capitol hill in mid april. we will be there. we are still waiting for information and we will get a schedule together. joann,all for our guest, florida, facebook user. caller: hello, how are you? guest: doing well, how are you? caller: fine, thanks. i just wanted to comment on facebook during the election, the amount of hate that was out there for hillary was terrible. i was seeing it for my friends in indiana, and they were spreading these fake news stories. it was so bad for me that i had to, i wrote my senator, marco rubio, and complained about it.
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i got back a form letter from him about what they were going to do about it. , when you would go to a site that was more republican, it was all nice comments, but for hillary, it was just terrible, they hate. what facebookre can do. block so many people and i do not even go on it anymore because it is awful. host: are you keeping your account open but not using it? caller: yes, i have got it still open but i am not using it. host: thank you. guest: part of what you are seeing here, this is part of the concern and the reason why this is catching fire. we have no way of knowing if those ads -- the content she saw that was anti-hillary was made by russia or any sort of
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nefarious actor, whether that is cambridge analytica or any sort of political consultancy. there is a sense that social media is hijacking our democracy and hijacking our elections and our whole political process. that is the feeling you are getting from joanna and others that is driving this angst. host: randy from pennsylvania, good morning. caller: it is my understanding that the ftc is shutting down or rd.ing i/o is watch for news. what happened -- i always watch for news. what happened? guest: i think you are talking about the fcc which did not shut federal the communications commission, not the federal trade commission. i remember reading something
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earlier this week about russia. under theed to file foreign agents registration act. guest: as far as i know, they have not -- host: we read a story earlier this week saying the ftc might have a difficult time taking on such a big company as facebook. they do not have a full team in place. how does that process work? guest: there are only two commissioners at the ftc. those commissioners are on their way out, so there is not a lot of whole -- leadership. the person in charge of the facebook investigation is actually operating in an acting capacity, so he has not been confirmed by congress. that is the case with a lot of leadership. in the preliminary stages of this facebook investigation, that should not matter too much.
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the career people are going to be able to keep doing their jobs , going through the activities of facebook, and figure out how much data was taken inappropriately. there is an issue when it comes to resources. apparently the ftc only has around 60 people working on data privacy practices full-time. contrast that with other agencies, like the consumer protection bureau, they have a much larger privacy office. the same with hhs, their privacy office. it really is dwarfed by the european regulators who have entire organization set up. there's a question whether the ftc needs a significant increase in resources. there are parts of the digital economy that are not in the ftc's purview. if we are going to get serious about data privacy and security, and we have to come up there has to be a question of whether the
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ftc is the right agency to do this and if it is, how much more resources does congress need to provide? host: dan in arlington, virginia, a facebook user. caller: good morning. i would be interested in hearing your comments about one area you have not spoken about, the area of personal responsibility. you touched on it. the is a user statement we all signed up for when we voluntarily joined facebook or linked in. what is the responsibility of the individual for a "free service" to understand that the data they are providing is in fact being provided to a company? single usernk every watching this program right now is being responsible. everyone paying attention to this issue is being responsible. you have to educate yourself on what you are handing over to these companies. there is this feeling because it is free, i will just use it.
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when you are using something for free come enjoy the product, and that is what is going on here. because the data you have here is so valuable, they are able to make a lot of money off of your free use of the product just by making these profiles about you and collecting the data and moving it on. the more you know that, the better off you will be, the more comfortable you will be. i don't think the terms and services argument is very good, because nobody really need -- reads those. have a question about whether there needs to be an update to the rules and regulations around that, and maybe make those more transparent. dan is right, it ultimately falls on the consumer. i feel good that people are talking about this now and paying attention to this now. it'll just need to educate themselves, and companies have a role -- people just need to educate themselves, and companies have a role. host: bobby on twitter asked
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about the federal government. does facebook share its data with the federal government? guest: not that i know of. i feel that would probably run afoul of some laws, but i cannot tell you one way or another. i can tell you that would be at least as big as kendall. host: carol in leesburg, virginia, what was your reaction? caller: i was not surprised. this is the problem we have, a double-edged sword. like those- much women who called in about hillary clinton's campaign, you get a bunch of negative ads and it is horrible and you know it is fake. it is the same way i look at my crazy uncle. as the user, sometimes you know what is truth and what is not. the problem is, this is part of a bigger picture. you see the same thing on news channels, online, allover media outlets, and we wonder why we have a divided country.
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i know that facebook is a complementary service, a platform for people to speak and say what they want to say, but on the other hand, where my problem is when facebook uses that information in cells that information, or allows organizations like cambridge or the russians to take that and manipulate people's opinions, because now it is more targeted. that is where it is a cheap shot. i love facebook for the openness it has and i like you can use it as a platform to support your business or target people that you want to. hand, there has to be a minute responsibility on facebook to say, some of this is garbage. it can manipulate people's opinion and further divide us as a nation. last comment, every time i go on , i am a democrat, proud to say that, but i also go and watch fox news. when i go between the two channels it is astonishing how
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divided it is, and i hold them just as responsible for false information and spreading hate as i went for facebook that would send false information to cambridge. unfortunately, it is not a joke and that is why we are in this position now. it is sad, it has i don't see how we control it, whether it is facebook or fox news or other media outlets, as some people just don't know. they think what they are looking at is true and i do not know how to differentiate between the good, bad, and ugly. host: let's hear from our guest. guest: she hit on an interesting issue, this thing about targeting and how terrible it was that people were being targeted, but then she said later that people like to be targeted on retail issues. if you see a pair of boots you like and want to purchase those, you probably realized deep down, how did they know i liked those so much? targeted advertising and to a
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certain extent, targeted political messaging can be a good thing. it is not like we should just blanket ban any kind of targeting, any kind of social media collection of data. it just needs to be done in a more controlled way where people feel, unlike our caller now, feel it respects the process, whether that is the political process or from a business perspective, privacy and that kind of thing. there does not seem to be that kind of balance. i would not say any kind of targeting is bad, but we have to get back to some kind of balance and i do not know how. it will take users and the government. targeting is not necessarily the problem in and of itself. things are out of whack and there is not as much user control of the data. host: we mentioned cambridge analytica. c-span,ing will be on and that featured the
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whistleblower who testified. his name was christopher wylie. watch that three and a half hour hearing on tv on c-span or c-span.org. we have a headline and we want to get your explanation of a sex trafficking bill that is likely to be the opening salvo in a tech platform crackdown. guest: the bill has just been signed about a week ago by the president. it is the stop enabling sex traffickers act. it is a senate bill that is designed to essentially crackdown on online platforms who are accused of somehow facilitating sex trafficking on their platform. ,t is sparked by backpage.com there was an investigation several years ago that found an online classified page and there was a lot of sex trafficking going on, a lot of young people being sold into awful situation, and there was a sense that
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online platforms needed to be held accountable. they need to be able to be sued i state attorneys general and the victims. the platforms pushed back very hard at first when the debate was going on last year. there was a concern it would lead to frivolous lawsuits, state attorneys general trying to make names for themselves going after big tech companies. they were quickly forced to back down. i think you can say them losing on the sex trafficking bill was the first major loss silicon valley has had in washington in years, and this feeds into the facebook issue. it is indicative of their fading brand on capitol hill with both parties. the democrats and progressives see these companies accumulating all this power and obviously, the fear that a major corporation can wield so much power and influence. republicans feel silicon valley is sort of too friendly with progressives, feels they share
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their worldview, and have their thumbs on the scale for the content user c. both sides are hitting silicon valley and the sex trafficking bill is the first in many of shoes to drop. host: back to your calls, wanda from florida, wesley chapel, florida, facebook user. caller: good morning. caller with the previous . there is a different side that i am concerned about, and that is -- i want to say also that i am a democrat -- on the election from facebook. falset with a lot of things about hillary clinton and bill clinton. there was even a picture of a young man that looked exactly like bill clinton, supposedly
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bill clinton's son. i wonder what the impact was on the black vote. i have a lot of friends on facebook and a lot of people were persuaded by the content that was being posted on the page. have there been any data to show how facebook users were persuaded by nationality? guest: not that i know of. i think that is part of the concern with social media's impact on the election, fake news' impact on the election, russia's campaign on the election. we don't know if this changed votes or shifted the outcome of the election. there are some people who will try to tell you that the russian misinformation campaign had no impact on the vote. they are not able to say that.
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just like democrats like yourself are not able to say the vote flipped the other way. that feeds into the concern people have, there is no way of knowing. it is such a broad data set that i think we are thankful is not being tracked in that way. we do not know how changedamerican voters their minds based on what kinds of things they saw on social media. that kind of data would be extremely intrusive to collect. this is why you have sort changd their of got to get ahead of the issues for the next election rather than try to re-litigated here, because it is not possible after the fact. host: we have jay for minneapolis, good morning. caller: good morning. sorry, i had you on speakerphone. that illing to comment first registered for facebook, and i smelled a rat from the beginning.
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i just felt it was up to no good and that it was basically using may or that i was using it. -- using me more than i was using it. i simply canceled my account. this has been from the beginning, maybe 15 years ago. my second comment is for organizations and corporations who force me to register for their websites through facebook. my message to them is, if i have to register through facebook, i simply will not register. i will go to another company that does not insist i do that. my third question for your guest, probably off the subject. can net neutrality be saved? is it too late? what can we do? host: why don't you go ahead with the facebook comment first. guest: i think we are going to see a lot of that mindset. a lot of websites and companies and platforms, when you need to
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sign in, the only way you can sign in, or the easiest way is to click on the facebook link. host: that is happening why? guest: that is again, a big question. a big mistake for users, that is what they would say. once you are signed in, the chances you can be tracked is much higher and data can be sold. i think you will see more of this mindset that if that is half -- if that is how i have to sign in, i am not going to use your product. it is not just facebook. a lot of times you will see a google sign in. data privacy people tell me there is a reason google has been so quiet. they hope it blows over and does not include them as well. the idea that we have to sign into the sorts of online products, i think we have to take another look at that. ast: "14 million visitors year could face social media screening by the u.s., and
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nearly all applicants for visa will be required to submit their usernames." can you talk about that? guest: sound like extreme vetting. it is one factor, a slightly different issue. issue, that privacy these are people coming into the country within the state department's purview. it is a proposed rule, so it has not gone into effect yet. i will expect there will be some significant pushback and there might be some softening of it. we will have to see where it comes out ultimately. i feel like a bunch of people would be concerned about that idea of giving over social media information, passwords and access to that. it is a slightly different issue because we are talking about the federal government and immigrants coming to the country and not citizens. it feeds into this whole issue. host: here is a little bit of push-up -- pushback.
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millions of visa applicants, another deeply problematic trump administration plan. guests,l here for our it is judith in austin. we understand you used to have facebook. how come not anymore? caller: i have facebook, i just do not use it. guest: how come? caller: i got too busy with the animals. host: go ahead with your comment or question. guest: my comment is once everyone found out about all the news, coming in with the where that guy went out and tried to shoot up the pizza parlor because hillary was sex trafficking, did anyone go out find out howle to people would have really voted if they had known all of this was fake? guest: not that i know of.
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i don't think there has ever been any sort of push to determine how exactly fake news impacted the election. i think all we can say is it almost certainly had some sort of impact, but it is such diffuse question and social media's reach is so large, and not tracked by any federal agency or anyone who can do this , it is very hard to determine how that changed the election. maybe there have been polls, but nobody really thinks that what is the reason they voted against hillary or trump was because of some targeted ad they saw. everyone thinks they make up their own mind and advertising only works on other people. i do not think you would get an accurate snapshot and i do not think that is possible in the rearview mirror. host: as we wrap up, what are you realistically expecting from congress in this area in the months ahead? guest: i think we will get a
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congressional hearing for zuckerberg, mark zuckerberg, facebook ceo. i know the timeline is all over the place, but i think that will happen sometime in april. i don't know how substantive that will be, and i know that lawmakers want to browbeat zuckerberg. that looks great on television. whether they want to drill down into the problem at an industry level, because it is not just facebook, i am more skeptical. this is a good first step, finally getting zuckerberg on capitol hill, but we are heading into an election in november and i do not think we will do a whole lot before then. if the american people continue to be concerned about this, and particularly if they start to recognize this is not just facebook, i think you will eventually see congressional action but it will take time. host: our guest has been brendan >>

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