Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Facebook Threatened Europe with aggressive global lobbying against data privacy laws

  • Facebook has targeted politicians around the world — including the former UK chancellor, George Osborne — promising investments and incentives
  • Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg told the European Union and Canada that if they pursued legal measures the company disagreed with then Facebook would consider other “options” for investment and growth
  • First reported by Computer Weekly, the story paints Facebook as a tyrant of lobbying and Sheryl Sandberg as a thug for Mark Zuckerg.

Increasingly technology companies are spending big money on lobbying politicians and government with Facebook and Amazon among the top spenders.

Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, asked then chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne to be “even more active and vocal” in his concerns about European data protection legislation, and to “really help shape the proposals”, during a lobbying campaign to influence EU policy.

In a fair world there’s no way this kind of lobbying should be allowed as politicians are widely prone to corruption even in so called democratic and progressive countries.

According to court documents seen by Computer Weekly and The Guardian, it shows the extent to which big tech companies abuse their position and nearly unlimited wallets. In an internet dominated by advertising revenues that lobbying occurs is just a huge breach of social justice and capitalism where in a world with better leadership and true capitalism, these monopolies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon would be severely curtailed due to anti-trust violations or even completely dismantled (In Facebook’s case).

In both cases, Sandberg told government officials from the European Union and Canada that if she did not receive certain reassurances then Facebook would consider other “options” for investment and growth.
  • This is an indication that capitalism is eating democracy and social justice, as we also have seen in recent times with Huawei and the SNC Lavalin scandal in Canada.
  • Corporate interests should never veto stricter regulations that could hurt technology firm profits and this kind of lobbying is a huge breach of capitalism and democracy.

Facebook’s Aggressive Lobbying shows it has too much power

Canada gave her the written reassurance she sought the same day. Facebook pronounced itself pleased with its relationship with the Irish government, through which it was hoping to influence the EU.

Facebook currently has a market capitalization of $463 billion.

Facebook aggressively lobbied politicians across Europe in a strategic operation to head off “overly restrictive” GDPR legislation. GDPR allows for stricter rules against privacy invasion widely practiced by companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft’s LinkedIn.

The documents were apparently filed under seal as part of a lawsuit in California between Facebook and an app developer, Six4Three.

Facebook apparently threatened to withhold investment from countries unless they supported or passed Facebook-friendly laws. Facebook mobilised its staff for a huge lobbying campaign in Davos, holding private discussions with policy-makers over Europe’s plans to tighten data protection rules, according to the documents.

Facebook appears immortal to controversy

Sandberg tried to influence privacy policy via the Irish government. The leak paints Sandberg as someone with an iron will to ensure Facebook’s continued monopoly over consumer data for behavioral targeting practices.

Facebook’s endless public scandals and unethical practices haven’t significantly moved the needle of its stock price or its 2.3 Billion global user base of monthly active users.

The latest round of embarrassing revelations come as Facebook faces privacy investigations in the US, following revelations by the Wall Street Journal last month that the company had harvested sensitive medical data from apps on users’ smartphones, including details about their blood pressure, weight and ovulation.

Between pressure from Huawei and Facebook, Europe appears destined to be the scapegoat and victim of bigger technological empires and harder hitters in spite of seeming to care more about privacy than American capitalists or the Chinese Government.