Charter’s Rutledge urges Congress to crack down on Silicon Valley on privacy

Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during the TechCrunch Conference at SF Design Center on Sept. 11, 2012 in San Francisco. (Photo by C Flanigan/WireImage)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (C Flanigan/WireImage via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0)

Less than two years after the cable industry bemoaned what it felt was Silicon Valley’s cozy relationship with the Obama White House, it is now the multiple-system operators who have the ear of the federal government.

And with Congress getting set to rock the world of Facebook and other so-called edge providers over consumer privacy concerns, Charter Communications Chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge is voicing his strong support. 

“Despite our reliance on websites and social media, the truth is, most people don’t know that when they engage in these activities online, many Internet companies are collecting a significant amount of information about them and selling it to others for advertising, research and even voter persuasion purposes,” Rutledge wrote on Charter’s policy blog this morning. 

“Charter believes individuals deserve to know that no matter where they go online or how they interact with online services, they will have the same protections,” Rutledge added. “Different policies leading to inconsistent protections sow confusion and erode consumer confidence in their interactions online, threatening the Internet’s future as an engine of economic growth. And as an Internet Service Provider, that’s bad for business. So we are urging Congress to pass a uniform law that provides greater privacy and data security protections and applies the same standard to everybody in the Internet ecosystem, including us.”

Facebook announced last week that Cambridge Analytica, a British data firm hired by Donald Trump’s campaign, had improperly gathered detailed information on 87 million users. The new problems come as Congress is still trying to wrap its head about misuse of the social media platform by Russian operators to tilt the 2016 election in Trump’s favor. 

On Monday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will meet with lawmakers, leading into what is expected to be a heated two days worth of congressional hearings this week.

Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post today that his company will establish “an independent election research commission.”

“The goal is both to get the ideas of leading academics on how to address these issues as well as to hold us accountable for making sure we protect the integrity of these elections on Facebook,” Zuckerberg said.