Facebook, Private Companies Continue Gathering Data Despite Congress Crackdown on NSA

Technology SecurityThough Congress passed a bill reining in the NSA’s spy capabilities this week, private companies like Facebook still make it their business to gather as much of your data as possible.

As the National Journal wrote in a sweeping article summarizing the country’s data collection practices, comparing Facebook to the government is a bit unfair to the site. When the NSA collects the information of American citizens, for example, it can undermine both constitutional law and our nation’s way of life. The stakes aren’t as large with sites like Facebook, but politicians are still beginning to take notice.

“While today we are focusing appropriately on the role of the federal government in issues of civil liberties, we must also understand that it is not just the government that is collecting information on law-abiding Americans,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate. “In fact, the private sector’s collection of information is just as intrusive and equally dangerous.”

The problem, experts say, is a lack of information. The majority of Facebook users don’t know what data they have voluntarily given up by joining the site, and they don’t know what kind of privacy rules they should demand of it. And even though Facebook has deliberately made its privacy controls easier for users, experts say many people can get discouraged and decide not to use them. The future of Facebook’s business is staked in its user’s information, so it will be interesting to see how potential conflicts play out between the company, privacy advocates and lawmakers over your private data.