Lately, many questions have arisen about what major tech companies or their applications do – such as Amazon, Facebook, TikTok, WhatsApp, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, Discord, and Reddit – with their users’ data, how do they process it, and do they actually sell it to third parties?
To answer these and other questions, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued an official letter last week to these companies asking them to share details about how to process user data and what to do with it?
What are the details?
The move is the latest move by federal regulators to pressure technology companies to try to monitor their activities, as increased scrutiny by federal officials in the United States this year has prompted major social media apps to respond to incorrect uses of consumer data and violations of the law. Federal Antitrust.
The order comes just one week after the Federal Trade Commission and 48 prosecutors in all US states filed lawsuits against Facebook, accusing the company of illegally exercising a monopoly, as the FTC’s request for information covers a broad spectrum in order to understand how the models affect Actions on what Americans hear and see, with whom they speak, and what information they share.
In this regard, Rohit Chopra, Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission issued a statement stating: “Important questions about business models, algorithms, data collection, and use, and policymakers and the public do not know what social media and video streaming services do to collect user data and whether Sell it or not ”.
What exactly does the Federal Trade Commission want from tech companies?
Basically, the committee wants technology companies to explain in detail the number of users for each application that the company owns, the extent of users’ activity on it, and what the company knows about them. In addition, the committee also wants social media sites and video broadcasting companies to hand over information about how the data collected is processed. How advertising and sharing practices affect young users and teens, and tech companies have 45 days to respond to the request.
Why is this intense scrutiny of these companies?
Legislators, civil rights groups, and consumers have put major tech companies under the spotlight this year in particular, after uncovering questionable practices by the major websites and apps they have.
Where press outlets revealed how applications share user information with Facebook, in addition to this, reports also revealed that Amazon was collecting data from independent vendors and using it to create its own competing products.
Notably, in July, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet – the parent company of Google – and Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, testified before Congress about the growing monopoly power of Silicon Valley companies.
Where Jeff Bezos acknowledged that Amazon may misuse data to expel independent sellers, and added that this matter is the subject of an internal investigation now, and this year has also witnessed the filing of large lawsuits against technology companies such as: Facebook and Google from the US Department of Justice and several US states in which these companies are accused In violation of competition law.
The Norwegian Consumer Council also published a report in January showing that 10 apps collected sensitive information, including the user’s exact location, religious and political beliefs, and other information, and the apps transferred personal data to at least 135 different third-party companies.