It’s strange that Mark Zuckerberg was summoned to testify before the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, one of the biggest committees in the U.S. Senate, and one of the most unconstitutional.
It’s not like he was suspected of breaking any laws, so how is it any of Congress’ business anyways?
Unless he broke the law, the principles of a free market within a constitutional republic (which happens to be the form of society America aspires to be) would dictate that he should only have to answer to his platform’s users, customers, and shareholders.
But if consumers are concerned about protecting their own data, they should exercise some independence from Washington and educate themselves about the extent of data breaches.
That would at least be a good first step.
Here are 10 data breaches that make Facebook look like Ft. Knox for all of your stupid selfies and vacation photos:
1. Equifax 2017 – In 2017 the credit bureau giant experienced a massive cybersecurity breach which exposed the personal information of almost 143 million Americans, including names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, and some driver’s license numbers. Equifax also said about 209,000 U.S. customers’ credit card information was compromised. What a nightmare!
2. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz 2017 – It emerged in 2017 that Imran Awan, the corrupt IT staffer working out of Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s office, had compromised sensitive U.S. congressional information by sending it outside the network of House servers in violation of Capitol Hill information security policies. Many sitting members of Congress may have had their House emails breached in a case that is still unfolding.
3. Grindr 2018 – Earlier this year, Grindr, the dating platform primarily used by gay, bisexual and transgender men drew heavy criticism from the LGBT community and some privacy advocates when it was revealed that the dating app company had shared the HIV status of its users with third party companies.
4. NSA Wiretapping 2013 – In 2013 Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee and NSA contractor working as a high level intelligence analyst at an NSA facility in Hawaii, went to The Guardian, The New York Times, the Washington Post, and Der Spiegel to blow the whistle and inform the American public that the NSA has been collecting and storing massive amounts of your personal data including text messages and the metadata of your phone calls, which you thought was all private. Clearly unconstitutional.
5. Google / YouTube Ad Network Targeting Children 2018 – The most successful YouTube channels all know about how profitable kids’ channels are on YouTube. With ads for toys and video games and kids’ movies, they monetize at a significantly better ad payout per view than other genres.
What parents need to know is that Google is collecting information constantly on what their children are watching and how they respond to ads, in order to create super-refined, irresistible ads, and to suggest more content to watch that is tailor made to keep your children addicted to YouTube and trained up to be perfect aspirational consumers, not like– seekers of truth, or engaged civic leaders, or empathetic, well-rounded good people.
6. Target 2013 – In 2013 customers were rocked by the revelation that a data breach of Target Stores had put the credit card numbers and personal data of literally millions of Americans into the hands of cybercriminal hackers. The market did punish the successful and stylish retail store chain with a marked drop in sales.
7. Mt. Gox 2014 – Launched as an exchange for Magic The Gathering cards to be sold like stocks, in a story stranger than fiction, the website Mt. Gox made a major pivot and decided to become an exchange for Bitcoin after the innovative digital money system made its debut. By 2014 it was handling more than 70 percent of bitcoin transactions world wide, but clearly cut some corners on security, because in February of 2014, Mt. Gox closed down and filed for bankruptcy, announcing that 850,000 bitcoins (at that time worth a total of $450 million USD!) it was holding for its customers had been stolen out of its computer system by hackers.
8. Uber 2016 – In 2016, just two hackers were able to breach Uber’s computer system and steal the personal information of 57 million Uber users and 600,000 drivers, including names, email addresses, and mobile phone numbers. The thing is, Uber took nearly a year to disclose the fiasco to the public, and amazingly paid the hackers $100,000 to delete all the info with no way of verifying if they did! The ride sharing company’s CSO was fired.
9. NARA 2008 – In 2008 the National Archive and Records Administration compromised the data of 70 million U.S. veterans when a hard drive containing their names, contact info, and Social Security numbers stopped working. Instead of being destroyed on-site, the drive was sent off-site to a government contractor to be scrapped, but it is still not clear if the drive was ever actually destroyed.
10. eBay 2014 – In May 2014 the online auction and digital shop website reported a cyberattack which had compromised the names, addresses, birth dates, and passwords of every single one of its 145 million users at the time. It faced public criticism in the media for the breach, but profits seemed unaffected by the breach.