Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) questioned Zuckerberg about whether he would support a rule to notify users of a data breach within 72 hours, which the Facebook CEO said he wouldn't be opposed to. That's similar to what the European Union is doing with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which goes into effect on May 25th. Zuckerberg said he believes GDPR gets "certain things right" and if the right regulation comes up in the US, he would fully support it. "I am not sure we shouldn't be regulated," Zuckerberg said. "If it's the right regulation, we'll welcome it. I think that's a discussion that needs to happen."
Meanwhile, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) said he has reservations about Zuckerberg's testimony. "I don't see how you can change your business model to maximize profit over privacy," he said, "unless there are specific rules from an outside agency. I have no assurance that these vague commitments will produce any action." During the hearing, Blumenthal announced that he and Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) were introducing a privacy bill of rights designed to protect the personal information of American consumers. The Customer Online Notification for Stopping Edge-provider Network Transgressions (CONSENT) Act would require the FTC "to establish privacy protections for customers of online edge providers like Facebook and Google."
One of the main challenges with regulation, according to multiple senators, is that it can put Facebook in a position of cemented authority and limit innovation from up-and-coming tech companies. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) argued that while Facebook has the resources to comply with tougher federal rules, if they were implemented, that may be harder for small startups to do. At the same time, Zuckerberg highlighted his support for the Honest Ads Act, a Senate bill that proposes that online advertising be regulated the same way print, radio and TV ads are.
Zuckerberg kept emphasizing to senators that Facebook doesn't sell user information, adding that the company needs to do a better job of making that clear to people on its platform. He also talked about artificial intelligence and how Facebook is using that technology to protect user data and take down abusive content. In addition, Zuckerberg echoed his statements from a call with reporters last week when he said Facebook will have 20,000 people working on privacy and security issues by the end of 2018.
"They [these issues] gotta be fixed, and I think you can fix them," Senator John Kennedy (R-Louisiana) said to Zuckerberg. Kennedy told the CEO that Facebook's user agreement "sucks" and that it's only there to cover the company's "rear end." He said Zuckerberg needed to tell his "$1,200-an-hour lawyers" that he wants it written in English so that the average American can understand it. "If we're not communicating this clearly," Zuckerberg said, "then that's something we need to work on."
That was it for today. But round two of Zuckerberg's congressional hearings is tomorrow, when he's set to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee at 10 AM ET. We'll be covering that live as well.