Face­book may be ‘democ­racy threat’, says GCHQ chief

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Daily Tele­graph Re­porter

FACE­BOOK could be a threat to democ­racy un­less it is prop­erly reg­u­lated, a for­mer head of GCHQ has warned.

Robert Han­ni­gan said Face­book was not a “fluffy char­ity” pro­vid­ing free ser­vices to users, but rather so­cial me­dia firms were try­ing to “squeeze ev­ery drop of profit” out of per­sonal data.

The for­mer in­tel­li­gence chief was scep­ti­cal about whether tech gi­ants could re­form them­selves and sug­gested new laws may be re­quired.

Asked if Face­book was a threat to democ­racy, Mr Han­ni­gan told BBC Ra­dio 4’s To­day: “Po­ten­tially yes, I think it is, if it isn’t con­trolled and reg­u­lated.

“Frankly, some Face­book ex­ec­u­tives have con­ceded that it needs reg­u­la­tion.

“[These] big com­pa­nies can’t re­form them­selves. It will have to come from out­side. The EU is [talk­ing] about do­ing it and I’m sure oth­ers will fol­low.”

On Wed­nes­day, a House of Com­mons select com­mit­tee pub­lished more than 200 pages of Face­book in­ter­nal doc­u­ments, in­clud­ing emails be­tween key staff mem­bers, which had been seized as part of its in­quiry into fake news.

The doc­u­ments had been gath­ered by soft­ware firm Six4three as part of its le­gal bat­tle with the plat­form.

The Dig­i­tal, Cul­ture, Me­dia and Sport Com­mit­tee said the files ap­pear to show Face­book of­fer­ing spe­cial deals to some de­vel­op­ers – in­clud­ing Net­flix and Airbnb – to gain spe­cial ac­cess to the data on a user’s friends, even af­ter plat­form changes in­tro­duced in 2015 re­stricted such prac­tices.

Face­book said the cache of doc­u­ments pub­lished about its busi­ness tells “only one side of the story”.

But Mr Han­ni­gan told To­day: “This isn’t a kind of fluffy char­ity pro­vid­ing free ser­vices.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.