Rep. Ro Khanna indicates support for accountability from Facebook’s Zuckerberg

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Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna, D-California, expressed support for holding Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, following an oped May 9, in the New York Times by the other Facebook co-founder, Chris Hughes.

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-California, serves the 17th District. (Official photo from Congressional Website of Congressman Khanna)

Rep. Khanna is considered a leader on Capitol Hill on issues pertaining to IT and Artificial Intelligence. In October 2018, the Indian-American lawmaker released his set of consumer data privacy regulations principles for an ‘Internet Bill of Rights,’ which made headlines.

In his oped, Hughes called for breaking up Facebook into three and holding Zuckerberg responsible for privacy lapses.

“The government must hold Mark accountable,” Hughes said, even as he described Zuckerberg, as a “good, kind person,” but one who is surrounded by “a team that reinforces his beliefs instead of challenging them,” adding, “I’m angry that his focus on growth led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks.”

Rep. Khanna, who Politico referred to in 2017, as Silicon Valley’s “ambassador to Trump’s coal country,” said in a statement, “Chris Hughes is a thoughtful voice for those left out of the digital economy.”

“I agree with him that, in retrospect, the FTC should not have approved Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram & WhatsApp in 2012,” Khanna said referring to the Federal Trade Commission.

Hughes, an old friend of Zuckerberg, said his childhood friend’s influence is “staggering, far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government,” controlling as he does three platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

Hughes also contended that the Facebook advisory board is basically a rubber stamp because Zuckerberg controls 60 percent of the company’s voting shares.

“I believe the way forward is to heavily scrutinize future mergers and to ensure no company has anti-competitive platform privileges,” said Khanna whose District 17 in California covers Silicon Valley.

“The history of the Valley is the giants of the past —AOL, Yahoo, Cisco, even Microsoft —make way for the giants of the future. We need well-crafted regulation to ensure that continues,” Khanna said.

“It is important that America never surrender its lead in innovation to China’s Alibaba, TenCent, or Baidu. But our focus on innovation must be balanced with a commitment to consumer privacy and promoting competition. The Microsoft case of the 90s provides the best model forward,” said Khanna who authored the “Internet Bill of Rights” last October.

On Capitol Hill, Khanna also introduced a bill to modernize government operations – Bill 5759 in the 115th Congress, “21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act” or “21st Century IDEA” became law in December 2018, laying down regulations for website modernization, digitization of government services and forms.Hughes, in his oped, also conceded, “I’m disappointed in myself and the early Facebook team for not thinking more about how the News Feed algorithm could change our culture, influence elections and empower nationalist leaders.”

 

 

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