Bad actors at play!
When  I was a child, I was an avid viewer of The Lone Ranger which was a long  running series about the Wild West. There would invariably be a Native  American telling myself and my entranced siblings that “white man speaks  with forked tongue”. Since those days of black and white TV nothing  much has changed in this respect, especially in certain corporate  cultures.

So, do you think that Google and Facebook are  working in your best interests when it comes to your privacy? All is not  what it seems. Whilst these mega companies are telling the public one  thing about their falling over backwards to protect our data etc., they  are in fact using their wealth and not inconsiderable clout to peddle  their influence to, at times, unsuspecting think tanks and privacy advisory bodies.

Through donations, these two corporations have  weaseled their way into the likes of the Brookings Institute and the  Center for Democracy and Technology. Now, whilst those venerable think  tanks would totally refute any suggestion that they have been  “paid-off”, this does raise issues yet again about the lobbying culture  in the USA and its pervasive use to help manipulate proposed  legislation. Both Google and Facebook are running scared of local State  laws as these could have a far greater detrimental effect on their data  collection activities. They have openly said that they want Federal Law  to preempt State Law. Cynics might say that it is unsurprising that one  of these groups advocates for exactly that. There is now also support  within the advisory community for the selling of user data to 3rd  parties. Google and Facebook must be basking in a smug glow of  self-congratulation.

Most of these bodies play their cards pretty  close to their chests when it comes to disclosure of the exact amount  of donations. Whilst it has not reached a stage yet where the fox is in  charge at the hen house, Google and Facebook are by no means privacy-centric so they will do whatever they can to turn the tide of  opinion in their direction. With privacy legislation now high on the  agenda, we should all be very wary as to what these two corporations  (and others!) are doing behind the scenes to minimize the effects upon  them of upcoming laws.

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