It seems like big tech companies are more interested in sharing everyone’s data but their own. This has sparked a hearing from the US Congress on the whole matter. According to The Verge, Congress is discussing whether companies like TikTok, Meta, and YouTube should be required to share their data with researchers.
When it comes to big companies, the word “data” is a major buzzword. We all know about the numerous data leaks that take place at these companies on a seemingly weekly basis. Also, we know most of these companies to sell our data to advertisers.
Meta, TikTok, YouTube, and other platforms could be forced to share their data
But, enough about our data; let’s talk about their data. A hearing took place Wednesday with a collection of senators and other politicians to discuss this topic. Titled “Platform Transparency: Understanding the Impact of Social Media” it tackles the subject of big tech companies and data sharing.
It’s really hard to get an idea of what’s going on at a big tech company because most companies don’t share their data. They keep everything hush-hush and away from the public. We don’t know how certain companies perform in terms of sales or how fast their products are spreading. This information, while it does rightfully belong to the company, can be crucial for researchers and journalists. Thus, the hearing was to discuss whether it’s right that companies keep all their data hush-hush.
What would companies have to share?
So far, there are a couple guidelines regarding what information the companies would need to share and how. The data won’t exactly go up on a public Dropbox account. Basically, the companies would need to share their data if contacted to via legitimate institutions.
Firstly, if researchers need to access data from a company, they’d need to submit a proposal to the National Science Foundation. If it’s approved, then the company would need to provide the information requested. However, if the data requested is sensitive in any way, then privacy measures will be taken
Second, the FTC would be able to access information if it requests it. The report refers to one type of information as being ad targeting.
Third, the companies will need to provide basic research tools to study the data. This will let more people be able to ascertain the data provided by the companies.
Lastly, this would stop companies from blocking independent researchers and platforms from accessing the data they need. Not only that, but it will provide a legal safe harbor to those researchers to protect their privacy.
This may or may not happen
Right now, Congress is merely discussing whether this is necessary. We don’t know if companies will have to share their data or not. Since this is a political battle, it could be months or years before we see any sort of tangible change.