Users’ privacy seems to be the biggest “loser” after the CEOs of Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon testified in front of the Congress. Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook, Sundar Pichai and Jeff Bezos tried to emphasize that users are in control of their data, but avoided the main points.
Testimony vs. reality
The hearing in front of the House Antitrust Committee (HAC) was meant to clarify the concerns about the companies’ market dominance. So, the statement of the HAC’s Chairman David Cicilline at the end of the hearing is mainly relevant.
“This hearing has made one fact clear to me: these companies as they exist today have monopoly power. Some need to be broken up, all need to be properly regulated and held accountable. We need to ensure the antitrust laws first written more than a century ago work in the digital age”, he said.
In parallel, the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission and the state attorneys general started their own investigations. Those would try to discover if the companies have broken the law.
At the same time, the Congress would decide if they have to change any law, in order to better deal with competition problems.
Users’ privacy – the abandoned idea
Although all four CEOs tried to convince the Committee that their companies do not break the antitrust law, one of the most important points was, in fact privacy.
Sundar Pichai, for instance, mentioned that “We today make it very easy for users to be in control of their data. We have simplified their settings.”
So did Mark Zuckerberg, in 2018, when he said that users are “in control of their data.”
But for the average user, the privacy settings are still to difficult to understand and use. So, the giants keep them “hidden” because it is more profitable this way.
In fact, the more data companies gather about users, the more money they make by targeting those users. This is also clear behind Pichai’s words: “Most of the data today we collect is to help users and provide personalized experiences back.”
These also include personalized ads, which bring billions of dollars into the accounts of these companies.
In fact, users do not have a real choice when comes to the services provided by these giants. Although Google promised, for instance, to get rid of the third-party cookies, that follow users and serve them personalized ads, there is no guarantee for this.
Users can not rely on big tech companies to protect their data. Fortunately, Ad Guardian Plus brings some help to stay away from trackers and annoying ads.