Infrastructure Bill Delayed, Facebook’s Whistleblower Unveils, GDPR Fines Rise

Infrastructure bill does not see expected vote Thursday, Facebook’s whistleblower reveals herself, GDPR has huge fines.

Infrastructure Bill Delayed, Facebook’s Whistleblower Unveils, GDPR Fines Rise
Screenshot of Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen from her 60 Minutes interview Sunday.

October 4, 2021 – Negotiations over the Senate-passed infrastructure bill stalled Friday, a day after a vote was expected in the House.

The value of the infrastructure bill turned into the chief tension point as progressive democrats fought against the proposed $1.2-trillion spending measure in favor of something that looks closer to their $3.5-trillion proposal. The bill was pulled from the house floor Friday.

Biden is beginning a tour of several states including Michigan and plans to invite key members of Congress to the White House this week in an effort to build pressure to pass his agenda.

While the $3.5-trillion price tag could be lowered, progressive Democrats have offered that a likely compromise might entail fully funding the same programs as in the $3.5-trillion package, but funding them for five years instead of the originally planned ten. The bill includes spending for social programs including healthcare, climate change, child care, and road improvement.

Facebook’s whistleblower steps forward

Facebook has recently come under fire for a series of internal documents released to the press that have brought to light both that Facebook allegedly contributed to the January 6 Capitol insurrection through the spread of misinformation and that Facebook was aware Instagram is harmful to teens’ mental health, but allegedly chose to take no action. The whistleblower stepped forward in an interview with 60 Minutes on Sunday.

Her name is Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, and she sent thousands of pages of internal research to The Wall Street Journal and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Haugen will testify before a Senate subcommittee titled “Protecting Kids Online” Tuesday. Facebook recently halted development for Instagram for Kids following the Journal’s report and calls by lawmakers to suspend it.

Haugen emphasized that individuals at Facebook aren’t evil or “malevolent” but that the company’s incentives are misaligned, leading to the prioritization of profit over public good at several key junctions.

Fines from the GDPR reach new heights

Fines from the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) hit almost a billion dollars in the third quarter.

Amazon Europe Core S.à.r.l. was fined 746 million pounds for its use of customer data in targeted advertising practices. Facebook-owned WhatsApp Ireland Ltd found itself with a 225 million pound fine for severe breaches of privacy laws. Alphabet’s Google, H&M and TIM are also among those historically regulated with the greatest punishment from the GDPR.

The enforcement mechanisms for the GDPR are largely in their infancy, only having passed three years ago, and regulators are still finding their footing. Experts agree that the success of these enforcement measures will only serve to embolden regulators in the fight for privacy, consumers rights and data protection.

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