Facebook may be ‘democracy threat’, says GCHQ chief
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.”