PORTLAND – It’s been a rough few weeks for Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Senator Ron Wyden implied Friday that things are about to get even tougher in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
“Big companies can not take little responsibility for big problems,” Wyden, a Democrat, said Friday in a speech to attendees at TechfestNW on the campus of Portland State University. “Facebook has absolutely failed at responsibly managing its platform by letting its algorithms get hijacked by extreme or fake content that winds up dividing the country.”
Zuckerberg is expected to testify before several Senate and House committees next week, although he’ll dodge an appearance before Wyden’s Intelligence Committee. A few weeks ago, Wyden sent a letter to Facebook asking questions about the data hijacked from Facebook by Cambridge Analytica, demanding to know “if the Cambridge Analytica scandal is a one-off or if other companies have been downloading data on millions of Americans without their knowledge,” he said Friday.
Wyden offered no specific proposals about how to regulate social media companies and how they collect personal information on Americans, but signaled that those conversations are starting to happen in Washington.
“The Senate and the Congress have not moved as fast as they should with respect to these technology issues,” Wyden said in response to an audience question about whether or not Congress is as responsible for this debacle as anything. Basically, he said, nothing has happened since the late Senator Ted Stevens referred to the internet as “a series of tubes,” which gave comedians and Twitter snarks fodder for weeks.
“I think we’ve got to establish the principle once and for all that you own your data,” Wyden said.
Wyden also called on fellow members of Congress and voters to support his fight to prevent the Federal Bureau of Investigation from requiring tech companies to build law-enforcement-friendly back doors into their products, and proposed that Oregon’s vote-by-mail system be extended nationwide given the lack of progress on protecting the voting system from foreign intervention.