back to article Amnesty slams Facebook, Google over 'pervasive surveillance' business model

Amnesty International says the "pervasive surveillance" practiced by Facebook and Google represents a threat to human rights, a claim the two companies dispute. On Thursday in the UK, the advocacy group, known for documenting torture and ethnic cleansing, published a report taking the two ad giants to task for business models …

  1. JohnFen Silver badge

    This is Facebook's standard dodge

    "Facebook enables people all over the world to connect in ways that protect privacy, including in less developed countries through tools like Free Basics," the company spokesperson said. "Our business model is how groups like Amnesty International – who currently run ads on Facebook – reach supporters, raise money, and advance their mission."

    This has become Facebook's standard dodge these days -- trying to frame the privacy issue in a way that excludes Facebook itself from consideration. When they say "protect privacy", they mean from everybody who isn't Facebook or doesn't have a business deal with Facebook.

    In other words, this is a mealy-mouthed public relations lie.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: This is Facebook's standard dodge

      And if you aren't a Facebook user, you are still tracked and you have no way to opt-out - well, at least normal people don't. At home, I have all 1,500 Facebook tracking domains blocked in DNS, but that isn't practical, when I'm out and about.

      1. Antonius_Prime
        Pirate

        Re: This is Facebook's standard dodge

        Hang on. 1,500 domains? That's some hell of a blocklist. I assume you're on PiHole so.

        Got a list of these trackers? I imagine my network traffic would drop substantially if I could block most of those!

        1. MiguelC Silver badge

          Re: trackers to block

          Go here

        2. big_D Silver badge

          Re: This is Facebook's standard dodge

          https://github.com/jmdugan/blocklists/blob/master/corporations/facebook/all

          In total, I have around 2.5 million sites blocked on my Pi-Hole.

          Edit: Wow, it is over 2,000 now!

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: This is Facebook's standard dodge

        "And if you aren't a Facebook user, you are still tracked and you have no way to opt-out "

        Yes. If it weren't for that, I wouldn't get so upset about Facebook, as I'm not a Facebook user.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This is Facebook's standard dodge

        I try and block google by blacklisting IP subnets on my router. It did work to block AdChoice for a while, now there is just a pause while they redirect until it hits me....

      4. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: This is Facebook's standard dodge

        For Android users, I recommend Blokada. It's like a Pi-Hole for your Android phone!

        For laptop useres, Firefox with uBlock Origin (or insert your favorite ad/tracking-blocking combo of choice) works a treat.

        For iPhone users, I recommend taking your tracking and liking it.

        1. Tessier-Ashpool

          Re: This is Facebook's standard dodge

          Duh, or get a content blocker that erases all those nasty Facebook links before they make it to the browser.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Facebook enables people all over the world to connect in ways that protect privacy,

    Facebook ignored users privacy settings and allowed phone manufacturers low-level access to users FB data.

    I found out about this 2 years before it was reported by the New York Times and had contacted the manufacturer of my device multiple times by both email and by phone yet the representatives vehemetly denied they had access to users social media data.

    Multiple requests to view what data had been collected by the Chinese manufacturer (as per the privacy policy) were ignored even after multple escalated phone calls and emails.

    I also found that the factory installed Facebook app could update/modify itself remotely without using the Play Store.

    After witnessing all this I deleted any and all social media accounts and set about learning how to better protect myself and others.

    So, fast forward a year or so to the Cambridge Analytica fiasco and I see Mark Z. lying through his teeth to Congressman about the extent of the privacy abuses.

    And now senators are asking more questions about the location controls on Facebook:

    https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2019/11/senators-ask-if-facebook-really-lets-users-opt-out-of-location-tracking/

    So, if any of you congress critters are out there, ask Mark about his "Facebook/Places" portion of his SDK's he gave to millions of third-party app developers that use WiFi, Bluetooth and NFC for location above and beyond the devices GPS.

    Facebook sold out the privacy and security of the entire nation for an advertising dollar and it will be our undoing.

    /rant

  3. Il'Geller

    There is my AI technology, it completely replaces Google and FB and does not need espionage.

    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
      Joke

      You would have received so many upvotes, if only you have used appropriate icon ->

      1. Il'Geller

        You want to be Google and FB slave? At least I make you free.

      2. Il'Geller

        Google and FB sell advertisers uniquenesses, that is what makes patterns different from all other patterns. To do this, they use data about what is popular with people, through spying on them.

        AI technology creates unique patterns by analyzing the texts from which the patterns come. In particular through annotating the patterns' words by their unique dictionary definitions, references to encyclopedias and other texts.

    2. GrapeBunch Silver badge
      Angel

      No, thanks, I already have Ubik by Philip K. Dick.

    3. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Flame

      OhLookThisGuyAgain.jpg

      Normally, I restrain myself to more civil comments on The Register (no, really!), but in this case I'm forced to go Full Internet:

      Fuck off. When you've fucked off, fuck off some more. When you've fucked off as much as you possibly can, keep fucking off until I tell you to stop.

      Have I told you to stop? No? Then keep fucking off until I do. That's a good boy.

      1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
        Happy

        My thoughts exactly.

        This guy's comment history deservedly is a very special down-vote fest.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Hey! Kooks have always played an important role in the Internet ecosystem.

        Well, they've always played a role, anyway.

        Personally, I think the Reg forums would be a sadder place without our resident kooks. If a clod be washed away by the sea, and all that. And certainly we have some clods here.

  4. GrumpyKiwi
    FAIL

    Government? Privacy?

    Yes if there is one thing governments are good for it's protecting our privacy. Well obviously not everyones privacy. In fact not anyones privacy.

    In fact they're notoriously shit at it, and unlike Google or Facebook have been known to send the odd drone or special operations teams to kill people when they get things wrong (or right).

    Asking the government to safeguard our privacy is like asking a bunch of foxes what kind of protection chickens need.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Government? Privacy?

      Governments can be very good at protecting your privacy from nongovernmental entities, though, if they put their minds to it. Even if that doesn't stop governmental spying, it's still an improvement.

      Since we can't seem to get corporations to stop spying on us, governmental action is all we really have. Are you suggesting that we just give up and do nothing at all?

  5. Mike 137 Bronze badge

    Amnesty International's own privacy commitment

    At the foot of every page on the Amnesty International web site: "We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can use this tool to change your cookie settings. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue."

    First. note the past tense - it's done already before you get the chance to object.

    Second, from its cookie policy: "Amnesty International uses cookies for the following purposes: to compile statistical data on the use of our website and its functioning, so that we can monitor and improve it; to facilitate users’ ability to navigate through our website, including to allow registered users to access secure parts of our website; and to allow us to share our web pages via social media platforms." So they lump non-essential cookies (requiring prior informed consent) in with those that fall under the PECR exemption "(a) for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network; or (b) where such storage or access is strictly necessary for the provision of an information society service requested by the subscriber or user." which do not require consent.

    An impressive approach to privacy for an organisation challenging snooping by others.

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: Amnesty International's own privacy commitment

      As does el reg.

      But since I delete the cookies once they're no longer useful to me anyway, I prefer this approach to a huge in-your-face 'cookie policy' popup that wants me to read pages of crap and confirm three times that no, I really don't want their tracking cookies to improve my experience, thank you, and have a cookie set to say so.

    2. Mike 137 Bronze badge

      UPDATE: Amnesty International's own privacy commitment

      Despite the inexplicable down votes, my comments above are vindicated. Thomas Claburn's article Bad news: 'Unblockable' web trackers emerge links to a Hamburg Data Protection authority press release which categorically states that assumed consent for tracking is unlawful.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google and Facebook dominate our modern lives

    says Amnesty International on fb

    (sorry, I do support AI and all that, but they SHOULD put this statement on fb, after all, we're all hypocrites :)

  7. fpx
    Devil

    Why would governments act?

    Governments are perfectly happy with surveillance capitalism as long as they can tap into that data. With a simple subpoena, not even a warrant, governments can now "legitimately" get detailed dossiers on anyone.

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