Armstrong Presses Big Tech for Answers on Privacy

March 25, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) pressed the CEOs of Google, Facebook, and Twitter for answers on the measures they take to protect user privacy. His comments were at a joint virtual hearing of the Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology and Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce.

Excerpts from his remarks:

On Big Tech Data Collection

“It starts with the fact that your users aren’t your customers, they are the product. More specifically, the data that you collect from your users is the product. You are incentivized to collect and monetize user data for behavior advertising. This results in the collection of even more user data. Data is unique as a business asset. It doesn’t deplete. Data is perpetual and reinforcing. Data begets more data. Massive data collection expands your market share which harms competition.”

Big Tech Amplifies Misinformation

“Your algorithms don’t simply silence certain speech. Your algorithms are designed to reinforce existing predispositions because you profit by keeping users locked into what they already enjoy. This leads to information silos, misinformation, extremism on both sides, and even more data collection, which repeats the cycle.”

On Big Tech Digital Advertising Market Share

“This is still eliminating competitors’ access to user data at a time when you [Google] already control 60 percent of the browser market. I have real concerns that FloCs [Federated Learning of Cohorts] will incentivize more first party data collection which will not actually benefit user privacy. Instead of spreading it amongst a lot of different companies, it will just all be with you [Google].

Congress needs to conduct careful oversight as the privacy sandbox and FloCs are introduced. We need to ensure that user privacy increases and competition is not stifled further.”