Facebook CEO and co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg, was in front of Congress again Wednesday, testifying before the House. Tuesday, he was before the Senate.
The hearing follows allegations that research and political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, improperly gained access to the data of tens of millions of Facebook users.
Emily Cadei was in Washington D.C. covering the hearing for the Sacramento Bee. She said her biggest takeaway was that Congress is not particularly tech savvy, which means some are uncertain if regulating companies like Facebook is their job.
One of the things you're going to see is a lot of debate about what the role of Washington is going forward. You heard from some lawmakers urging [Facebook] to self regulate so that Washington does not have to intervene. Others took a more proactive stance.
The Honest Ads Act is one piece of legislation under Congressional consideration. This bill would make identifying where an online political ad comes from or who paid for it mandatory, Cadei said. That rule already applies to broadcast television and radio ads.
Another new bill could require platforms like Facebook to strengthen their data protection and increase the level of control that users are given over their data, Cadei said.
But Cadei added she doesn't expect to see major regulations pass anytime soon because this is an election year and Congress faces a lot of gridlock at the moment, making significant and potentially controversial legislation difficult to pass.
For those representing California in particular, there is pressure to not rock the boat with technology companies like Facebook, Cadei said.
What I heard from California lawmakers across the board is they do not want to upset the basic economic structure that has produced so much innovation. These firms are also constituents. Their employees are voters in California. They're donors in California. They pay taxes in California and so [Congress members] are trying to strike a balance between responding to the concerns but also not overdoing the regulation in a way that's going to strangle these companies' business models.