Dublin, 2 April 2019
ICCL has serious concerns about Hildegarde Naughton’s comments on requiring private social media companies like facebook to collect government issued identification including our PPS numbers or passports. These corporate platforms are not democratically elected governments – giving them government like functions in this manner subverts the rule of law.
Chilling Implications for Privacy and Free Speech
Further, collecting government issued data in this way ignores the data minimisation principle in the GDPR. It is absolutely not necessary and also has chilling implications for privacy and freedom of expression.
This is a really dangerous proposition. If facebook were to collect the ID of all of its participating members it would become the largest ID database on the planet. Considering the ongoing breaches by malicious actors of facebook’s security systems, this would put all users at immediate risk.
Difficulties with regulating free speech
At the weekend, Mark Zuckerberg stated that facebook had too much power over online freedom of speech. ICCL agrees that this is the case. However, there are also intrinsic difficulties with state regulation of free expression online.
Freedom of expression and our associated rights, including privacy and protest rights, apply equally whether we are online or off. Any restrictions on our fundamental rights must only occur when they are necessary and proportionate.
ICCL has identified difficulties with proposed Irish legislation seeking to regulate content on social media platforms.We have been particularly alarmed by the overly vague definitions of what is deemed ‘harmful’ in proposals thus far, including the potentially negative inadvertent impacts for free expression that might ensue.
We emphasise that legislative attempts to regulate social media should not reproduce the social ills they are attempting to correct. We will continue to examine any proposed legislation in this area.
Potential Interference in Elections
We also note Mr Zuckerberg’s concern for electoral processes. The danger of potential interference by state, or indeed by private bodies like facebook, in elections is a growing international problem. ICCL is committed to ensuring the integrity and transparency of our electoral processes. We have previously called for legislation on the issue of political advertising alongside reform of the Irish Electoral Act, to address weaknesses in our current law.
Facebook’s operational model, its collection and use of personal and biometric data, and its dominant market position present grave threats to the fundamental rights of individuals, including privacy and freedom of expression. We will continue to review and suggest revisions to any proposed legislation in this area to ensure it complies with international human rights standards.
Sign up for updates on ICCL’s privacy rights work: https://iccl.us11.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=e028dcd1c7540ce2f9eb1ff7b&id=1fcc99eb8b
We can’t do this work without you! Please consider donating today: www.iccl.ie/donate