FCC chairman says Twitter, Facebook, Google may need transparency law
The leader of the Federal Communications Commission says that major web companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google have offered little transparency into how they work — and it’s time to seriously consider forcing them to tell us.
In a blog post today, FCC chairman Ajit Pai calls out a long list of algorithmic and moderation decisions by web companies (including Twitter choosing not to ban New York Times columnist Sarah Jeong, a former Verge writer) and says that “consumers have virtually no insight” into how or why they happen. The same goes for privacy issues around how and where our data is used, Pai says.
“The public deserves to know more about how these companies operate,” he writes. “And we need to seriously think about whether the time has come for these companies to abide by new transparency obligations.”
“CONSUMERS NEED ACCURATE INFORMATION”
Pai’s blog post is timed to a congressional hearing that will see Facebook and Twitter executives sitting in front of a House committee tomorrow to answer questions around transparency. (Google was invited, but declined to appear.) The fact that Pai is even weighing in here is unusual: web companies make great use of the networks his agency regulates, but he does not regulate these web companies.
On top of that, Pai actively fought and stripped away similar regulations on the companies that he does regulate — internet providers. Privacy rules covering the vast amounts of data that your internet provider is capable of seeing were among the first things he scrapped after taking charge of the commission.