Services like Twitter, Facebook should be regulated in other countries

Services like Twitter, Facebook should be regulated in other countries

Summary: With citizens voluntarily sharing data about their lives on US based services like Facebook and Twitter, the data can be used as good leverage by the US government as it presents insights into several aspects of an individual's life.


Off late there's been quite a lot of buzz around RIM giving access to government agencies in other countries access to encrypted communication over their servers, in India RIM decided to allow the government access to Blackberry messenger chats, Nokia has setup servers in India as a jab at RIM. The Indian agencies widened their net to include Skype and Google. Given the developments in the past few months, our reliance and adoption of services like Twitter and Facebook gives both these services unprecedented insight into the citizens of a country.

Facebook has come up with intriguing visualizations based on the data they have, and the ability to leverage this data against a country is as serious a threat. Both Facebook and Twitter have their data stores in the US. It is a fallacy that we own our data despite what the terms and conditions say. Zuckerberg wants to rid the Internet of anonymity and put faces to online identities. His motives are questionable at best, while his argument might be about cowardice and authenticity, his agenda to put a face to everyone who uses his platform so that he can go back to advertisers armed with this data. It has little to do with one being a coward. While he might believe in the coward argument, ridding the world of cowardice is not his end game.

The inadvertent fallout of a US based service putting faces to everyone around the world is what scares me since the US government has better access to this data. The US government is considering a bill allowing them to shut down their Internet, known as the Internet kill switch bill (a modified bill is expected to come back for vote.) The implications of the world relying on these US services and the US government being able kill the Internet or manipulate these services are profound for other countries. The US government allegedly instructed twitter to reschedule a planned maintenance to allow the Iranian protests.

The Indian government recently took to Facebook for citizen input for the next national planning draft and even the police force using the service. We are voluntarily feeding these US servers with information about our countries. It doesn't have to able marked Top Secret and Classified for it to be a leverage against a nation. The EU seems to be taking these concerns seriously given their recent brush with Google but their purview is still restricted to a user's privacy when using the service not control of data being shared by the citizens. India is aware of the issue and has been is looking for ways to work around it.

For what have the Hollywood movies like Enemy of the State have taught us? One world, with Facebook our government and Zuckerberg the ruler? Plot for a movie? I call dibs Sorkin.

To be clear I am not proposing a regulation of citizens and laws that look to curb a citizen's democratic right to freedom of speech but the ability of services like Facebook and Twitter to mine through data and sharing of this data with the US government.

Topics: Social Enterprise, Browser, Government, Government US, BlackBerry, Servers

Manan Kakkar

About Manan Kakkar

Telecommunication engineer with a keen interest in end-user technology and a News junkie, I share my thoughts while preparing for my Master's in Information Management.

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  • Yes, Egypt, Iran and Libya should regulate these site...

    (I don't know the answer, but I also don't trust many governments)
    Roque Mocan
  • tRUTH:

  • More bureaucracy? No thanks

    The last thing we need to do is fatten the government.

  • Don't trust Facebook, Twitter?

    Then don't use them! We don't need more government regulation, just some common sense.
    • RE: Services like Twitter, Facebook should be regulated in other countries


      Pretty much. But then again most people lack common sense so it's a losing battle.
  • RE: Services like Twitter, Facebook should be regulated in other countries

    united we stand divided we fall ,Maybe ZDnet Talkback should be regulated "laughs wave@ India IT
    Manan Kakka
  • RE: Services like Twitter, Facebook should be regulated in other countries
  • RE: Services like Twitter, Facebook should be regulated in other countries
  • I doubt you'll find much support here...

    As I suspect most commenters will be American, and feel that the US is the best nation, so why shouldn't they have access to influence everywhere? After all, how else do you fight the terrorists/dictators/despots?

    I think there needs to be oversight of data privacy (so it doesn't turn into government abuse, quashing the public), but I definitely feel that it shouldn't be one nation policing the others! Have something like the WTO set up specifically for the purpose, not responcible to a nation, but responcible to *all* nations (well, theoretically, as that's the idea behind the UN...)

    tbh, I think the US government will be the downfall of facebook, because of the aggressive pursuit of national interest, even when their national interest directly harms others.
  • Freedom dies without anonymity

    It all depends on your world view of government.

    If you beleive that the government owes its existence, purpose, and control to the people, then anonymity is necessary to keep it from getting free of your control.

    If you beleive the government has the right to control the people, then you agree that anonymity should be abolished.
  • RE: Services like Twitter, Facebook should be regulated in other countries

    The problem with facebook is that many services are now requiring a facebook account to make comments. I don't like this.
  • RE: Services like Twitter, Facebook should be regulated in other countries

    "Services like Twitter, Facebook should be regulated in other countries"?!?!?!?

    OMG?!?!? Are you SERIOUS? What if Lybia, Egypt, and Iran regulated these services? What would happen to free speech? We all know the answer to THAT! It would be non-existent.

    No, we do NOT need other countries (nor even the U.S.) regulating these services, with the exception of the obvious like using them to harm others.
    Software Architect 1982
  • Very stupid idea... Please think before you post...

    This is nuts...<br><br>Am an Indian.. and I had stopped reading this section of ZDnet blogs (India IT by Manan Kakkar ) some time back itself, since I generally found his blogs lacking insight and info and sometimes bordering on stupid like today's blog.. <br><br>Nope.. i don't use twitter.. and facebook is a privacy disaster but regulation by governments is the last thing anybody should be suggesting.. and I dont trust governments to do a good job as IT managers either..<br><br>It seems the blogger has one day, seeing his declining readership, decided to throw in a sensational type headline so that he gets some page views and clicks.. and i guess he succeeded too.. since i find myself clicking the link to see what the hell is this and now, commenting here..
  • RE: Services like Twitter, Facebook should be regulated in other countries

    Errrr. You regulate Facebook and Twitter you must regulate this sites and others that have blogging and similar features. When someone post a comment/link on Facebook, that isn't much of a difference than posting here.

    Even if you can regulate, how do you do it? Crackpot governments and dictators can't have someone going through the full web site looking for anti-government people or perversion or whatever.
    Gis Bun
  • RE: Services like Twitter, Facebook should be regulated in other countries

    Can you please in future write in complete sentences instead of repeated dangling clauses with no subject or verb? From the opening sentence to the last, poorly linked run on of dependent clauses, the entire article was a journalism teacher's nightmare.
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