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Congresswoman Debbie Dingell

Representing the 12th District of Michigan

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Dingell Questions Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: “I worry that when I hear companies ‘value’ our privacy, it’s meant in monetary terms”

April 11, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12) today questioned Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg at a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee entitled, “Facebook: Transparency and Use of Consumer Data.” Dingell pressed Zuckerberg about the questions he failed to answer during his congressional testimony regarding Facebook’s business practices, as well as the extent to which Facebook collects information about users across the internet, even those who do not have Facebook accounts.

“I worry that when I hear companies ‘value’ our privacy, it’s meant in monetary terms, and not the moral obligation they have to protect it,” Dingell said. “Data protection is like clean air and water. There need to be clear rules of the road.”

The full exchange between Dingell and Zuckerberg can be read below. Video is available here.

Dingell: I know Facebook’s value – I’ve used it for a long time – but with that value also comes obligation. We’ve all been sitting here for more than four hours. Some things are striking in this conversation. As CEO, you didn’t know some key facts. You didn’t know about major court cases regarding your privacy policies against your company.  You didn’t know that the FTC doesn’t have fining authority and that Facebook could not have received fines for the 2011 consent order. You didn’t know what a shadow profile was. You didn’t know how many apps you need to audit. You did not know how many other firms have been sold data by Dr. Kogan other than Cambridge Analytica and Eunoia Technologies even though you were asked that question yesterday. You don’t even know the all the kinds of information Facebook is collecting from its own users. 

Here’s what I do know. You have trackers all over the web. On practically every website you go to, we all see the Facebook Like or Facebook Share buttons. And with Facebook Pixel, people browsing the internet may not even see any Facebook logo. It doesn’t matter whether you have a Facebook account. Through those tools, Facebook is able to collect information from all of us.

So I want to ask you. How many Facebook Like buttons are there on non-Facebook web pages?          

Zuckerberg: Congresswoman, I don’t know the answer to that off the top of my head, but we’ll get back to you.

Dingell: Is the number over 100 million?

Zuckerberg: I believe we’ve served the Like button on pages more than that, but I don’t know the number of pages that have the Like button on actively.

Dingell: How many Facebook Share buttons are there on non-Facebook web pages?

Zuckerberg: I don’t know the answer to that exactly off the top of my head either, but that’s something that  we can follow up with you on.

Dingell: And do we think that’s over 100 million? Likely.

Dingell: How many chunks of Facebook Pixel code are there on non-Facebook web pages?

Zuckerberg: Congresswoman, you’re asking some specific stats that I don’t know off the top of my head, but we can follow up with you and get back to you on all of these.

Dingell: Can you commit to get back to the Committee? The European Union is asking for 72 hours on transparency. Do you think we could get that back in Committee in 72 hours?

Zuckerberg: Congresswoman, I will talk to my team and we will follow up.

Dingell: I know you are still reviewing but do you know now whether there are other fourth parties that had access to the data from someone other than Dr. Kogan or is this something we’re going to find out in a press release down the road? I think what worries all of us, and you’ve heard it today, is it has taken almost three years to hear about that, and I am convinced that there are other people out there.

Zuckerberg: As I have said a number of times, we are now going to investigate every single app that had access to a large amount of people’s information in the past before we lock down the platform. I do imagine that we will find some apps that were either doing something suspicious or misused people’s data. If we find them, then we will ban them from the platform, take action to make sure they delete the data and make sure that everyone involved is informed.

Dingell: And you’ll make it public quickly? Not in three years?

Zuckerberg: As soon as we find them.

Dingell: I’m going to conclude because my time is almost up. I worry that when I hear companies “value” our privacy, it’s meant in monetary terms, and not the moral obligation they have to protect it. Data protection is like clean air and water. There need to be clear rules of the road.