Despite a slew of privacy breaches at big technology companies in 2018, Silicon Valley has yet to face any type of fines, or incentives to better protect users’ personal information, according to Vivek Wadhwa, a Harvard Law School distinguished fellow.
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“These people get away with murder,” he said on Wednesday during an interview with FOX Business’ Charles Payne. “And this shouldn’t continue like this.”
This week, it was revealed that Google failed to publicly disclose a security bug it discovered in March that allowed third-party app developers to access the personal information of social network Google+ users who had granted permission, and their friends.
Although the tech giant patched the problem -- which first started in 2015 -- it chose to not disclose the breach to the nearly 500,000 users who potentially had their full names, email addresses, birth dates, gender, profile photos, places lived, occupation and relationship status exposed.
In an internal memo obtained by The Wall Street Journal, Google policy and legal officials wrote that disclosure would likely result “in us coming into the spotlight alongside or even instead of Facebook despite having stayed under the radar throughout the Cambridge Analytica Scandal.” They also argued that disclosure would likely invite “immediate regulatory interest.”
But Wadhwa argued there needs to be some type of retribution system for companies that inadvertently allow their users’ data to be accessed by outside vendors. Otherwise, he warned, it will continue happening.
“Silicon Valley has gotten a free ride. Imagine a speeding tickets’ only $5, the fine for running a red light was $10, and that’s it. All you had to do was apologize and you’re off the hook. We’d all be speeding and running red lights, because the cost would be nothing,” he said. “That’s what it’s like for these companies. They don’t even have to pay the $5 or $10, all they do is, ‘Oops, we’re sorry,’ and then move on.”