Amnesty International: Facebook, Google surveillance an 'assault on privacy'

Amnesty International: Facebook, Google surveillance an 'assault on privacy'
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Amnesty International said Thursday that the amount of information controlled by Google and Facebook, along with other tech companies, was a threat to privacy rights around the world.

A report published by the human rights watchdog described the two companies as dominant over much of the Western world's online habits, which amount to much of Americans' daily lives.

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“Google and Facebook dominate our modern lives — amassing unparalleled power over the digital world by harvesting and monetizing the personal data of billions of people. Their insidious control of our digital lives undermines the very essence of privacy and is one of the defining human rights challenges of our era,” Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International's secretary general, said in a press release.

“To protect our core human values in the digital age — dignity, autonomy, privacy — there needs to be a radical overhaul of the way Big Tech operates, and to move to an internet that has human rights at its core,” he said.

The report described massive data breaches that have affected major tech companies — such as Facebook's admission surrounding the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which tens of millions of user accounts were affected — as an innate part of the normal functions of such companies.

"The abuse of privacy that is core to Facebook and Google’s surveillance-based business model is starkly demonstrated by the companies’ long history of privacy scandals," the report reads.

"Despite the companies’ assurances over their commitment to privacy, it is difficult not to see these numerous privacy infringements as part of the normal functioning of their business, rather than aberrations," it continues.

Google and Facebook have faced criticism along with other tech companies for the scope of control they exercise over the U.S. tech market, and concerns over the data privacy of individuals who use the companies' services.

It was reported Wednesday night that Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — NFL social media accounts hacked | Dem questions border chief over controversial Facebook group | Clinton says Zuckerberg has 'authoritarian' views Clinton says Zuckerberg has 'authoritarian' views on misinformation Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — UN calls for probe into alleged Saudi hack of Bezos | Experts see effort to 'silence' Washington Post | Bezos tweets tribute to Khashoggi MORE was invited to a previously undisclosed meeting with President TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren: Dershowitz presentation 'nonsensical,' 'could not follow it' Bolton told Barr he was concerned Trump did favors for autocrats: report Dershowitz: Bolton allegations would not constitute impeachable offense MORE at the White House earlier this year as his company faces scrutiny from Congress.