On Wednesday, Amnesty International said in a report that the data-collection business model fuelling Facebook and Google represents a threat to human rights around the world.
According to the organization, free online services that are offered to people and then using information about them to target money-making ads imperils a gamut of rights including freedom of opinion and expression.
Amnesty said in its report, “Despite the real value of the services they provide, Google and Facebook’s platforms come at a systemic cost.” It further described google and facebook as “Surveillance Giants.”
“The companies’ surveillance-based business model forces people to make a Faustian bargain, whereby they are only able to enjoy their human rights online by submitting to a system predicated on human rights abuse.”
The London-based human rights group claimed that both the online giants collect a huge amount of data with ubiquitous surveillance that may be used against their customers.
Amnesty asserted the business model is “inherently incompatible with the right to privacy.” In the report, it has also been mentioned in the report that the two Silicon Valley firms have established “near-total dominance over the primary channels through which people connect and engage with the online world,” that grants them extraordinary power over people’s lives.
The secretary-general of Amnesty International, Kumi Naidoo stated that “Google and Facebook dominate our modern lives — amassing unparalleled power over the digital world by harvesting and monetizing the personal data of billions of people.”
“Their insidious control of our digital lives undermines the very essence of privacy and is one of the defining human rights challenges of our era.”
The government has been urged in the report to implement policies that ensure access to online services while protecting user privacy. “Governments have an obligation to protect people from human rights abuses by corporations,” Amnesty maintained.
“But for the past two decades, technology companies have been largely left to self-regulate.”
Facebook has protested the claims of the report saying it strongly disagreed with its business model being characterized as surveillance-based. In a letter from Facebook privacy and public policy director Steve Satterfield in an annex to the Amnesty report, it said that “Our business model is what allows us to offer an important service where people can exercise foundational human rights — to have a voice (freedom of expression) and be able to connect (freedom of association and assembly).”
“Facebook’s business model is not, as your summary suggests, driven by the collection of data about people,” it added.