Call/text: (617) 682-9697 | e: [email protected] | f: 617-391-3067

Big Tech Con — Privacy Contention Answers

Turn — Break-up hurts privacy because it takes enormous financial resources to protect privacy

Seth Rosenblatt, May 31, 2019, Privacy impact of Big Tech breakup far from clear, https://the-parallax.com/2019/05/31/privacy-impact-big-tech-breakup/

Big Tech has what it takes to make the biggest strides in consumer privacy, Kissner says. And while regulation is warranted, breaking up any of these companies might actually harm privacy research and development more than it improves it. “There’s a lot of research going on in differential privacy, federated learning, anonymization—[and] pretty much everybody who’s working on that on a practical level is working at Google, Apple, Netflix. All of that research is coming out of large tech companies and academic institutions. There are not that many companies that find this research feasible to do,” she says. “There is a lot of technology that has not been implemented because people can’t figure out how to make it run fast enough yet. Properly implementing cutting-edge privacy protection technology requires a significant amount of research and development, Kissner adds. Take shortcuts, and you risk interfering with security features already in wide use across the Internet, such as Single Sig

Consumers are willing to give up their privacy and a break-up won’t solve

Jason Allen, Writer & Business Coach, June 5, 2019, https://www.inc.com/jason-aten/the-federal-government-looks-ready-to-pick-a-fight-with-big-tech-heres-why-there-wont-be-any-winners-if-they-do.html, The Federal Government Looks Ready to Pick a Fight With Big Tech. Here’s Why There Won’t Be Any Winners if They Do

An even more important question is “would it actually be better for consumers?” I’m on record as someone who believes Facebook and Google need to do a far better job respecting the privacy and personal information of its users, but I’m not sure that’s a problem the government can solve. People clearly want to use the products created by these companies, and they willingly trade their personal information in exchange for free email and simple ways to share pictures of their kids or stay connected to their friends and relatives. All of which would likely look very different, and a lot less free, on the other side of an antitrust settlement. Consumers will benefit from better privacy controls and increased security of their personal information. That’s not the same as “break apart the company and sell off the pieces.”

People just don’t care about privacy

Kelly 13 (Heather, Technology Reporter for CNNMoney, Writer/Producer at CNN Digital, Degree in Journalism from NYU, “Some shrug at NSA snooping: Privacy’s already dead”, June 10, 2013, http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/07/tech/web/nsa-internet-privacy, kc)

A series of revelations about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs sparked outrage among many this week, including the expected privacy activists and civil libertarians.¶ But there seems to be a gap between the roiling anger online and the attitudes of other people, especially younger ones, who think it’s just not that big a deal.¶ It’s the rare issue that crosses party lines in terms of outrage, apathy and even ignorance. When interviewing people about the topic in downtown San Francisco, we found a number of people of all ages who had not heard the news, and more than one who asked what the NSA was.¶ The rest had various reasons for not being terribly concerned.¶ Privacy is already dead¶ When the news broke on Wednesday, a number of people responded online by saying an extensive government surveillance program wasn’t surprising and just confirmed what they already knew.¶ The lack of shock wasn’t limited to savvy technologists who have been following reports from organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or EFF, that cover possible monitoring going back to 2007. Many people already assumed that information online was easily accessible by corporations and the government.¶ A survey conducted by the Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor just days before the NSA news broke found that 85% of Americans already believed their phone calls, e-mails and online activity were being monitored.¶ Allen Trember from San Luis Obispo, California, said he knew when he started using the Internet that his information wasn’t going to be private, but still lamented that privacy no longer exists.¶ “I don’t like it, but what can I do about it?” he said. “I’m just glad that we have as much freedom as we do.”

And they can’t solve — splitting up companies won’t solve privacy and fake news problems

Zachs Equity Research, May 31, 2019, The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Facebook, Alphabet, Apple, Amazon, IBM and SAP, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/zacks-analyst-blog-highlights-facebook-151803489.html

Is Splitting the Solution? The big question here is whether this is the solution, i.e. whether it addresses the problem at all Take Facebook for example. Splitting up the company would mean that WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook will be different companies. While this could garner undivided management time to solve privacy and other issues, it’s still a practically insurmountable task given that there are billions of posts every day. So filtering fake news remains a problem. Facebook has already stepped up hiring to manually remove offending posts and is supplementing this with artificial intelligence-inspired suggestions/algorithms. The results are disastrous. Until the government can come up with a viable solution to the fake news problem, splitting up the company won’t help. The privacy problem on the other hand may be easier to solve by regulating the business as a utility. If Facebook doesn’t have a financial need to capture or sell user data (to advertisers), it can be more scrupulous about it and collect data only when it’s required to improve the service.

Break-up won’t reduce the harvesting of personal information

Shari Ovide, May 13, 2019, https://www.seattletimes.com/business/technology/commentary-the-case-against-breaking-up-facebook/, Commentary: The case against breaking up Facebook

Here are three problems I have with Facebook, and how a breakup might affect them: 1) Facebook has huge treasure troves of personal information. Facebook has vast knowledge about how the world spends its time on and off its internet hangouts, and in the real world. It hasn’t always been a reliable steward of that information, and Facebook hasn’t adequately justified why it needs all of it in the first place. Let’s say Facebook is split into multiple companies – the core Facebook social network, Instagram and WhatsApp, as Hughes suggests. Does a core Facebook with perhaps 1 billion users have less ability to harvest information such as people’s web-surfing habits and physical locations as they roam around with smartphones? No, it doesn’t. It’s true that a stand-alone Facebook wouldn’t know what people are doing on an independent Instagram and an independent WhatsApp, just as Facebook isn’t harvesting specific information now from people’s use of YouTube and Snapchat. I don’t know, however, that those limits would blunt Facebook’s aggressive data-harvesting machine.