Report shows Facebook lobbying growth
14 November 2017 10:21 GMT

An investigative report has shown that Facebook is increasingly lobbying on biometric data security and consumer privacy, to suit its agenda. 

Facebook started lobbying the federal government in earnest around 2011, when it reported spending nearly $1.4 million but by last year this had grown to almost $8.7 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

But Facebook is also working through trade associations to influence policy, including with  CompTIA, a trade group that bills itself as “the world’s leading tech association”, reports Public Integrity.

Sources in the Illinois Legislature told the Center for Public Integrity that an attempt to amend the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), which would have redefined facial recognition, was led by CompTIA.

Facebook has expressed support for the amendment, but won’t confirm or deny their involvement in the attempt. The effort fits a pattern, said Alvaro Bedoya, executive director of the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown University.

“Their approach has been, ‘If you sue us, it doesn’t apply to us; if you say it does apply to us, we’ll try to change the law,’” Bedoya said. “It is only laws like Illinois’ that could put some kind of check on this authority, so it is no coincidence that [Facebook] would like to see this law undone. This is the strongest privacy law in the nation. If it goes away, that’s a big deal.”

BIPA plaintiffs claim that by using their data to build DeepFace, Facebook deprived them of the monetary value of their biometric data. The statute carries penalties up to $5,000 per violation, which potentially could include thousands of Illinois residents.