Zuckerberg Grilled by Same Lawmakers Who Repealed Online Privacy Protections

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg appears for a hearing with the House Energy and Commerce Committee at the Rayburn House Office Building on Wednesday April 11, 2018, in Washington, DC. (Photo: Matt McClain / The Washington Post via Getty Images)Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appears for a hearing with the House Energy and Commerce Committee at the Rayburn House Office Building on Wednesday April 11, 2018, in Washington, DC. (Photo: Matt McClain / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

This time last year, Republicans in Congress were rushing to pass legislation repealing the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) online privacy protections that prevented internet service providers like AT&T and Comcast from harvesting and selling internet personal data without explicit permission from their customers.

The move was deeply unpopular, but the GOP reportedly hoped voters would be distracted by the controversy surrounding the attempted repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Democrats were united against the legislation, and President Trump quietly signed it into law.

Just one year later, many of the same lawmakers who voted to repeal the privacy rules were eager to grill Mark Zuckerberg about Facebook’s high-profile privacy problems as the embattled CEO testified before Congress this week. Zuckerberg has built an empire on data gathered from Facebook users and used to sell targeted ads — and the scandals are piling up.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican who introduced the legislation in the House that repealed the FCC privacy rules, told Zuckerberg that Facebook was “beginning to look like The Truman Show.”

“My constituents in Tennessee want to know that they have a right to privacy,” Blackburn told Zuckerberg during a marathon hearing held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday.

If Blackburn is so concerned about privacy, then why did she push to repeal some of the only online privacy protections on the federal books?

Critics point to Blackburn’s campaign finance records, which show that telecom companies subject to the FCC rules she helped throw out are some of her top donors. The answer also lies in an increasingly partisan debate over net neutrality and how the government should…

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