Grind for February 22nd, 2019
“Ideas shape the course of history.” –
John Maynard Keynes
UK says Facebook “intentionally” violated privacy laws
In a report released Monday, British lawmakers claim Facebook “intentionally and knowingly” violated the country’s data privacy laws.
Facebook’s “handling of personal data, and its use for political campaigns, are prime and legitimate areas for inspection by regulators, and it should not be able to evade all editorial responsibility for the content shared by its users across its platforms,” reads the report.
The 108-page document marks the end of an 18-month study on social media’s role in spreading disinformation (fake news) and interfering in politics. The study was conducted by the British Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee.
Materials reviewed by the committee suggest Facebook was “willing to override its users’ privacy settings in order to transfer data” to big companies like Spotify, Airbnb, and Netflix and used its market clout to drive others out of business.
Facebook denies all accusations.
The report personally criticizes Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for his refusal to meet with the committee and accuses him of sending witnesses who “had not been properly briefed on critical issues.”
Mr. Zuckerberg “continually fails to show the levels of leadership and personal responsibility that should be expected from someone who sits at the top of one of the world’s biggest companies,” says committee chair Damian Collins.
The committee is now calling on lawmakers to create legislation that would:
— Force Facebook to follow a code of ethics
— Hold Facebook accountable for harmful and incorrect content
— Create an independent watchdog with the power to fine Facebook for violations
Similar proposals are being considered by lawmakers in the US.
In the meantime, the Federal Trade Commission is negotiating a multibillion fine with Facebook as it concludes an investigation launched in response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The fine is expected to be the largest ever issued against a tech company.
Australia’s plan to plant 1 billion trees
The Australian government has plans to plant 1 billion trees as part of an aggressive campaign aimed at meeting the goals laid out in the Paris Agreement.
The massive effort is expected to be completed by 2050. According to the Australian government, the new trees will eventually remove 18 million tons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere each year.
Australia’s project is unique in that it avoids many of the things we typically associate with climate policy (environmental regulations, solar panels, expensive cars, etc.).
Based on new research conducted at ETH Zurich, trees might just be our best hope to fight global warming. “[Trees] are our most powerful weapon in the fight against climate change,” says Zurich researcher Thomas Crowther, whose research suggests the planet could support 1 trillion new trees.
“Trees literally just make people happier in urban environments, they improve air quality, water quality, food quality, ecosystem service, it’s such an easy, tangible thing.”
The best part: anyone can get involved in the project by planting a tree.
GOOD TO THE LAST DROP:
Did you know… In Cleveland, Ohio it is illegal to catch mice without a hunting license.